Planning Permission – Barn Conversion in the Countryside – Parker Planning Services

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Recent Court of Appeal Judgement; a useful tool for barn conversion applications.

It has been well reported in the development press that Class Q applications can be challenging to get through local planning authorities. Likewise, planning applications for ‘modern barns.

An appeal decision in Suffolk from 2019 was expected to be a useful tool. It established that a barn conversion policy in a local plan, with more or different criteria than those in Paragraph 79c of the NPPF (namely redundancy and immediate setting enhancement) are “more restrictive than the Framework” and therefore “in conflict with it, [being] substantially more restrictive”.

Despite this, local planning authorities and appeal Inspectors appear to be reluctant to repeat the finding.

However, we believe a recent Court of Appeal judgement (Bramshill v SSHCLG [2021] EWCA Civ 320) should help and we are looking forward to testing it.

On the matter of isolated homes in the countryside, and therefore the applicability of Paragraph 79, Bramshill judgement has summarised that the correct interpretation of the term “isolated homes in the countryside” is that set out in Paragraph 42 of the Braintree case (Braintree District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2018] EWCA Civ 610, [2018] 2 P. & C.R. 9) and requires planning officers and Inspectors to consider whether the development would be physically isolated, in the sense of being isolated from “a settlement” rather than being isolated from “other dwellings”.

So, if a barn is away from settlements, it matters not whether there are other dwellings nearby (for example, the farmhouse), it is ‘isolated’ for the purposes of invoking Paragraph 79 and the appeal case which tells us that any policy criteria beyond those in Paragraph 79c of the NPPF must be “more restrictive than the Framework” and therefore “in conflict with it”.

If you have a barn which you think is unlikely to meet the sorts of barn conversion policy criteria set out below, then get in contact and let’s see what we can do.

Examples of barn conversion criteria that could be inconsistent with the Framework and therefore hold less weight in decision making:
  • The building is locally distinctive and of architectural merit;
  • The conversion requires only minimal alteration;
  • The design maintains or enhances the structure, form and character of the rural building;
  • The creation of a residential curtilage does not have a harmful effect on the character of the countryside or settlement;
  • The site is served by an appropriate existing access;
  • The building provides a positive contribution to the landscape;
  • The conversion does not require significant alteration;
  • Any impacts on the natural environment are adequately mitigated for;
  • Alternative uses have been fully explored to the satisfaction of the local planning authority and can be discounted;
  • The building is structurally sound and capable of conversion without the need for extension, significant alteration or reconstruction;
  • The proposal is a high quality design and the method of conversion retains the character and historic interest of the building


Examples of barns we have successfully overseen:




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