Class Q concerns overcome to secure new dwelling in Green Belt

The small wins are just as satisfying as the big ones. Our client had a clear vision for converting a former poultry shed into a new home in the Worcestershire Green Belt. Initially (and predictably) this wasn’t a vision that the local planning authority shared; citing concerns about the legitimacy of the agricultural use and the ability of the existing building to be converted under the Class Q Permitted Development criteria. Undeterred and confident in our ability to overcome these concerns, a multi stage planning strategy was devised and implemented which has resulted in a consent, without needing to recourse to appeal.

Class Q of the General Permitted Development Order allows for the change of use of an existing agricultural building to a dwellinghouse without the need for planning permission under the Prior Approval procedure. Buildings don’t have to be in ‘active’ or current agricultural use to qualify as long as their most recent use was for agricultural purposes.

Because the building in question was not actively being used for agricultural purposes (housing a range of domestic items), the Council maintained that it could not meet this agricultural qualifying criterion and could not therefore constitute a building which could be converted under Permitted Development. To overcome the obstacle, an application for a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use was made which was supported by a robust suite of evidence which demonstrated how the original agricultural use of the building as there had been no material change of use once the active use ceased. Despite some initial resistance, a certificate was granted.

The Council also raised concerns about the structural integrity of the building; more specifically they were of the view that its condition was such that it could not be converted without major interventions (which would be tantamount to its rebuilding) and thus it would fail the permitted development qualifying criteria.

Working collaboratively with the client and appointed engineer, a structural upgrading programme for the building was devised that could be implemented prior to a Class Q application being submitted. Critically, this upgrade programme had to fall within the realm of work which did not require planning permission. In essence, the works could not materially affect the external appearance of the building. Once the programme had been devised, a further Certificate of Lawfulness, this time for proposed development was submitted to the Council. The purpose of this was to seek certification that the structural upgrading works did not amount to development, under the legislative meaning, and could therefore proceed without the need for permission. This certificate was also duly granted.

Subsequent to these structural works being undertaken, a Class Q application was made. The Certificates of Lawfulness which had been secured removed the concerns about both use and suitability, which the council had previously voiced, and the Class Q Prior Approval application was ultimately successful.

We wish our clients many happy years in their new home!





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