Only 226 barns converted in a year. Could the Housing White Paper deliver more homes on farm?
The latest government housing statistics suggest house building is up by 8%, with 189,650 homes being built in 2015/16. However only 226 of these homes were provided by barn conversions, under the simplified planning rules know as Class Q permitted development rights. Sadly this is a clear signal that we are not getting enough home from barn conversions. We need easier conversion rules and other ways to get more homes on farms.
Why only 226 barn conversions?
Barn conversions were never going to be the only source of homes on farm. Some farms do not have suitable buildings; conversion costs can be too expensive; and there are many areas where the rules do not apply such as for farms in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty or for growers in Conservation Areas.
However there are problems with the Class Q rules themselves: the regulations themselves are both complex and restrictive, plus some local authorities just don’t like the idea of modern barn conversions. This means it is easy to dismiss a barn conversion proposal with only about half getting approved.
NFU has worked to offer more solutions to getting more homes on farm. In our submissions for the Rural Planning Review in the spring we suggested the Class Q regulations would benefit from:
- More consistent decision making by local authorities
- Better guidance on what is ‘permitted development’
- A need for additional flexibility, to allow for more demolition and more practical conversions.
We also suggested the possibility of replacing redundant modern buildings in farmyards with dwellings, where there conversion would not be allowed.
We are looking now to the government to see how the Housing White Paper could deliver more homes for NFU members.
Read more about housing.
Find out more about how the Government reports housing statistics here.