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News & Insight

Changes to Class Q and Class R: Expanded Opportunities for Agricultural Building Conversions

23rd May 2023
Class Q

There are significant changes to Class Q from 21 May 2024, which previously allowed the conversion of agricultural buildings to dwellings and it is possible many buildings that previously did not qualify for conversion, now do as a result of these changes – for example buildings do not have to be in agricultural use providing they were part of an established agricultural unit on 24th July 2023.

The most radical change is the ability to extend under this permitted development right by up to 4m in maximum depth and height on to existing hard standing.  

There is also an increase in the maximum amount of floorspace that can be converted of up to 1,000m² and an increase in the number of dwellings to be created from 5 to 10 dwellings. However, a new maximum dwelling size of 150m² has been introduced, removing the previous provision to create ‘large’ dwellings of up to 465m².

The changes will mean that some buildings that previously did not qualify such as stables on farms will now qualify for conversion. Further, the increase in the number of dwellings allowed and the ability to extend to the rear is welcome. However, the new limit to the size of dwellings will be seen as a negative by many and could in practice render parts of buildings unconvertible. For those concerned about this, there are transitionary arrangements to convert under the ‘old’ permitted development rights until 20th May 2025.

The Hibbitt case in 2017 clarified the difference between ‘conversion’ and ‘rebuilding’. Where the work goes beyond conversion it may not be covered by Class Q. Internal work is not development and should not be an issue, but habitable rooms must meet current building regulation standards regarding light and ventilation. Technical Space Standards also apply.

Class Q proposals give the planning authority a right to veto Class Q on the basis there are legitimate concerns about transport and highway impacts, noise impacts, contamination risk, flooding, and whether the location or siting makes it ‘impractical or undesirable’ for the change of use.

While the changes are overall, welcome, there will continue to be many buildings that do not qualify for  Class Q conversion such as those located in areas of designated National Landscapes or where the necessary works are extensive and would not fall within the parameters of permitted development.

In such circumstances, an application for full planning permission can be made and there is clear national policy support for permission to be granted on the basis the building is reasonably sound; this also applies in Green Belt areas. We have extensive experience of gaining planning permission for the conversion of rural buildings – please contact us to find out how we could help you.

Class R

There are also minor changes to Class R, which previously allowed for the conversion of agricultural buildings of up to 500m² to certain non-residential uses.

The changes double the amount of floorspace that can be converted to 1,000m² and allow for a change of use to one of the following Use Classes:

  • Class B2 (general industrial) where this is for processing raw goods (excluding livestock) and ancillary goods which are produced and sold on site.
  • ClassB8 (storage or distribution)
  • ClassC1 (hotels)
  • ClassE (commercial, business or service)
  • ClassF.2(c) (outdoor sport or recreation)

Or for the provision of agricultural training

No change to the qualifying criteria has been made, the building must have been in agricultural use on 3rd July 2012 and only the change of use is permitted. This means the accompanying operational development to achieve the change of use must still be secured by separate planning permission.

While the changes to Class R are much more limited than those to Class Q, there will be many larger barns and other agricultural buildings that will now be suitable for conversion under these changes because of the increased floorspace allowance.


Permitted Development is complex and we would be delighted to help you to consider the most appropriate type of application.

The Rural Planning Practice

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