Thursday, 27 February 2014

Permitted development for homes in National Parks and AONBs

In an adjournment debate on National Parks in the House of Commons on Monday 24 February, a number of MPs expressed their concern about the proposed permitted development for barn conversions, on which the government consulted last year, and for which an amendment order to the GPDO is expected within the next few weeks. Members also expressed concern about such developments in AONBs.

In replying to the debate, the planning minister, Nick Boles said that, having set out the broad case for introducing a permitted development right in the country that would make it easier to convert agricultural buildings into homes, it is now entirely legitimate to ask whether it would be appropriate to extend that right to national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty or, in planning jargon, Article 1(5) land [which, incidentally, also includes Conservation Areas, the Broads and World Heritage Sites].

Boles told the House that De-CloG has undertaken “a genuine consultation” on the issue, and he pointed to the fact that in other areas where the government has introduced an extended permitted development right, they had listened to the concerns raised and modified the original proposals. He said that his department has listened to the very powerful and very persuasive arguments made, and they are genuinely taking them fully into account in reaching their final conclusion on how this permitted development right should work.

In conclusion, the minister hoped that he had explained that the intention behind the proposed permitted development right is to bring forward more housing on land that is already developed, and to make maximum use of the buildings that our ancestors saw fit to build, so that we do not have to put up any more buildings on green fields than is necessary to meet our housing and other needs. The government recognises, however, that national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty are designated for a reason and have a special status. The government would think hard about this and listen to the arguments put to them about the appropriateness of this measure in those areas. Although the minister could not anticipate the Government’s final position, he re-assured the House that the Government have heard the arguments loud and clear.

This seems to be a fairly clear hint that the PD rights for barn conversions (and the conversion of other agricultural buildings) to residential use may well be excluded in National Parks and AONBs, and possibly also in rural Conservation Areas and other sites covered by Article 1(5) of the GPDO. On the other hand, it seems clear that the government is still intent on proceeding with these permitted development proposals, and so we should know within a few weeks exactly what form this new permitted development right will take.

UPDATE: The amendment order was made on 10 March 2014, laid before Parliament on 13 March and will come into force on 6 April. See now the post I published on 17 March 2014 (“Barn conversions – the new rules”).

NOTE: There have been significant changes to the law since this blog post was published, and so the material printed here (including the appended comments) does not accurately reflect the current position. For completely up-to-date and fully comprehensive coverage of this subject, we would strongly recommend readers to obtain a copy of the author’s new book - “A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO PERMITTED CHANGES OF USE” published by Bath Publishing in October 2015. You can order your copy by clicking on the link on the left-hand sidebar of this page.



  1. Would you consider a barn in an area classified as a SINK be classed as a conservation area ?

  2. Is this all a bit discriminatory? Should the owners of land in designated areas be subject to a different regime to those outside when no harm (inappropriate new build) is proven? When these barns were built the fields were full of the paraphernalia that people collect when working or even staying overnight during the busiest time of the year.

    If "National Park" meant "owned by the Nation" as it does in other parts of the world it might make some sense but those in the UK are privately owned and such Draconian control of their rights is unacceptable, it panders to the elite who can afford to get there.

  3. In answer to the anonymous query posted yesterday, the mention of conservation areas in the minister’s speech on this issue in the Commons on Monday was clearly intended to refer specifically to areas formally designated as such under section 69 of the Listed Buildings Act. However, we shall have to wait to see precisely what provisions this further amendment to the GPDO contains when it is eventually published.

  4. A correction to the note above. The minister did not in fact refer to conservation areas as such. He referred to Article 1(5) land [and misquoted the statutory reference!]. Article 1(5) land includes conservation areas. As stated in my earlier note, these are areas formally designated as such under section 69 of the Listed Buildings Act.

  5. dave booth-New Zealand5 March 2014 at 10:14

    Presumably, as the aim of the government is to increase the residential housing stock; they will see fit to allow holiday lets to become residential.
    The shortage of housing in AONB is a major concern, and this would be one way to increase the number of residential properties with immediate effect.

    This is an obvious route, since there would be little change in allowing people to live perminently in properties that at present only get used for part of the year

  6. Hi there, I wonder if you know if the new permitted development rights for barn conversions apply to all agricultural buildings or only those on holdings of a minimum acreage, as per the permitted development rights for putting up agricultural buildings? Kind Regards

  7. The answer to Emma G (07/03/14) is that I don’t know. Like so many other points of detail relating to this proposed new permitted development right, we shall have to await the publication of the amending order to the GPDO in a few weeks’ time, when all will become clear (so long as it is clearly and unambiguously drafted!)