Class Q Permitted Development

Class Q – Permitted Development – Change of Use of Agricultural Buildings to Residential Use has Increased the Number of Dwellings

On 6 April 2018 Part 3 Class Q Permitted Development Rights changed in England. Miller & Miller, Land Agents explains how;



What’s Changed? 

Class Q has changed to allow the development of up to a maximum of 5 dwellings on an established agricultural unit (previously was only 3 dwellings), and includes any previous Class Q developments.

The cumulative floor space permitted has been extended from 450 square metres to 465 square metres to allow for up to three “larger dwelling houses”.

The right is further amended to provide up to five “smaller dwelling houses” where the residential floor space of each such smaller dwelling cannot exceed 100 square metres. In addition, the government has changed the definition of the permitted development that can be carried out under Class Q. 

You may need Prior Approval? 

Where permitted development rights are in place, there is, usually, no need to apply to the planning authority for permission to carry out the work. However, it may be necessary to obtain prior approval from the planning authority before carrying out permitted development.

If the regulations require that the planning authority’s prior approval is required, it is extremely important to obtain the prior approval before commencing any development.

Obtaining prior approval is an absolute. In other words, it is impossible to obtain “prior” approval retrospectively.

If you are contemplating converting a farm building to residential use then under the regulations that apply to Class Q, you will need to obtain the planning authority’s prior approval before commencing the development.

If you commence development before obtaining the planning authority’s prior approval, you will be required to submit a planning application, or in the worst case, be the subject of enforcement action.

What is permitted development under Class Q? 

The new rights are only available where the site was used solely as part of an established agricultural unit on 20 March 2013, or, if the site was not in use on that date, when it was last in use. The building that is to be converted must have been used for agricultural purposes and so used for the purposes of an agricultural trade or business.

If the agricultural use of the site did not commence until after 20 March 2013, the site needs to be used solely for agricultural purposes, as part of an established agricultural unit, for ten years before the new Class Q rights can be used.

Other qualifying criteria:

The 2018 amending regulations has introduced new rights for the change of use of agricultural buildings to provide up to five new dwellings. This will allow for:

  • · Up to 3 larger homes within a maximum of 465 square metres; or
  • · Up to 5 smaller homes each no larger than 100 square metres; or
  • · A mix of both, within a total of no more than five dwellings, of which no more than three may be larger homes.

A Larger Dwellinghouse is one which has a floor space of more than 100 sqm and no more than 465 sqm.

A Smaller Dwellinghouse is one which has a floor space of no more than 100 sqm.

The cumulative number of separate larger dwelling houses (i.e. between 100sqm and 465 sqm each) developed under Class Q must not exceed three within a single established agricultural unit.

Therefore it could be possible to have:

  • · 1 Larger Dwellinghouse of 465 sqm + 4 Smaller Dwellinghouses of up to 100 sqm each (total area 865 sqm)
  • · 2 Larger Dwellinghouses of say 230 sqm each + 3 Smaller Dwellinghouses of up to 100 sqm each (total area 760 sqm)
  • · 3 Larger Dwellinghouses of say 155 sqm + 2 Smaller Dwellinghouses of of up to 100 sqm each (total area 665 sqm)

But I have already converted buildings under the old Class Q? 

Good news, you now have an opportunity to add further conversions if you and the buildings meet the criteria set out in the new Regulations.

The Buildings fall within an Agricultural Tenancy – can I convert?

The new permitted development rights cannot be used where the site is occupied under an existing agricultural tenancy (e.g. Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 and/or Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995) unless there is express consent from both landlord and tenant;

  • The new permitted development rights cannot be used where, less than one year before the development begins, the site was the subject of an agricultural tenancy which was terminated with the intention of relying on the Class Q rights, unless the landlord and tenant agree to this in writing;
  • The new rights under Class Q cannot be used if, since 20 March 2013, the farmer used certain permitted development rights under the GPDO Part 6 – Agricultural and Forestry Classes A and B; this restriction relates to the erection, extension or alteration of an agricultural building; Incidentally the new Regulations have increased the size of new agricultural buildings in Part 6 of the GDPO from a maximum of 465 sqm to a maximum of 1000 sqm

The criteria for qualifying under the GPDO remain much the same but if you would like a free initial consultation as to whether your buildings would qualify, please call for further details on Tel: 0114 327 0120. We are here to help.