The Rural Housing Push
Recently, the government has announced a number of measures aimed at significantly boosting housing in rural areas. The measures will be introduced through changes to permitted development rights and changes to national planning policy. Both are considered below...
Permitted development rights
Permitted development rights allow a ‘light touch’ approach to the planning process and are being used by the government to promote its housing agenda. When used correctly they allow for certain changes of use to go ahead through a less bureaucratic process with a simplified assessment. When understood and used properly they provide applicants with more certainty and a quicker decision.
Conversion of agricultural buildings to dwellings
As it stands permitted development rights allow the conversion of agricultural buildings for up to three new dwellings with a maximum cumulative floorspace of 450 sq.m. The new measures will allow:
up to three larger dwellings with a maximum cumulative total residential floor space of 465 sq.m; or
Up to five smaller dwellings each with no larger than 100 sq.m of residential floor space; or
A mix of larger and smaller dwellings within a total of no more than five dwellings, of which no more than three may be larger dwellings with a maximum cumulative total of 465 sq.m residential floor space, to be developed on the agricultural unit in one or more agricultural buildings.
Change of use of storage and distribution buildings to dwellings
Alongside increasing the number of dwellings that can be created from converting agricultural buildings the government has also announced an extension of 12 months to temporary permitted development rights which allow the change of use of buildings being used for storage and distribution to dwellings.
National planning policy
The National Planning Policy Framework is the government’s overarching planning policy document that all local planning authorities must have regard to – both when drawing up their local planning policy documents and when making decisions on planning applications.
The draft revised National Planning Policy Framework (the Draft) identifies the importance of new housing in rural areas and continues with the theme that new housing in smaller settlements (even where there are no services) can play an important role in supporting services in nearby villages.
The Draft introduces a solution for succession planning for farmers that encourages new housing where “there is an essential need for a rural worker, including those taking majority control of a farm business, to live permanently at or near their place of work in the countryside”. The Draft also includes a new provision which seeks to increase the number of dwellings in rural areas by encouraging the subdivision of existing residential properties.
The government clearly recognises that there is a significant undersupply of housing and particularly housing in rural areas. The changes to permitted development rights and draft revisions to national planning policy reaffirm that the days of new housing in rural areas being an ‘exception to policy’ are gone. New housing is required throughout the country and that means in rural areas as well as the towns and villages.
If you have land or buildings in rural areas that you think are suitable for development please do not hesitate to contact at Robbie Mather or 01228 552222
About the author
Robbie is a Partner and head of the Commercial Property team.