Permitted Development Rights for agricultural buildings

Permitted Development Rights (PDR) cover those types of work which are allowed without having to apply for planning permission.

There are size thresholds, limitations, restrictions and conditions associated with the rights, which are designed to control impact and protect local amenities. These require going through a prior notification procedure where details are submitted to the local authority.

There are three main uses to which an agricultural building can change under PDR. They are:

Flexible Uses:

Flexible means any of the following categories: –
Shops, financial and professional services, restaurants and cafes, business, storage and distribution, hotels or assembly and leisure.

Education uses:

Subject to certain conditions and restrictions, agricultural buildings and land may convert to a ‘state funded school’ or a ‘registered nursery’. There is also a right to change use of any building and any land within its curtilage to a state-funded school for a single academic year.

Residential uses:

PDR to change the use of agricultural buildings to residential is subject to a number of limits and conditions, including:

  • Agricultural use must have been in existence on 20th March 2013 (or if redundant, it must have been in agricultural use when last used)
  • No more than 3 units to be created
  • Total floor area of all 3 not to exceed 450 square metres
  • External dimensions must not extend beyond the existing building
  • Proposal for conversion must incorporate substantial parts of the original structure
  • Notice must be given to the local authority to consider transport, noise, contamination and flood risks. The local authority can withdraw PDR if it is thought these issues cannot be overcome or there are other overriding planning objections

What is excluded from PDR?

  • Total demolition and rebuilding
  • Listed buildings
  • Land and buildings situated in certain areas such as National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Broads, World Heritage Sites and Conservation Areas

Tenant Farmer/Landlords

The regulations include certain criteria to protect agricultural tenancies which could be affected where landlords wish to carry out development. The safeguards consist of the following:
If the site is under an agricultural tenancy, express consent from the landlord and tenant are required before an application for prior notification can be submitted.

Conversion to residential use cannot be carried out where a tenancy has been terminated less than one year before an application for prior notification has been made, unless both the landlord and tenant have agreed in writing that the site is no longer required for agricultural use.

Linda Crawford is a solicitor in the property department at Barker Gotelee, Suffolk solicitors.

Property Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email

A version of this article previously appeared in the EADT, 8th October 2016