When we heard of the new residential to agricultural permitted development rights we thought it would be a great time to apply to convert an unused barn into a family home. As first time appliers we were slightly daunted about the prospect of dealing with the infamous planning department of our local council.

What are permitted development rights?

The government have created the permitted development rights in order to encourage conversion of existing agricultural buildings into either residential homes, for educational, or business use. In our case we were looking to convert our barn to residential. The idea is that the permitted development allow the change of use, without having to go through full planning. This makes the whole process much quicker (the decision must be made within 8 weeks), and also allows certain buildings which would otherwise be refused planning, to be converted.

There are various stipulations which can be seen on the planning practice guidance guide.

How do you apply for a permitted development change of use?

We found it very beneficial to speak to our local planning office for some pre application advice. The North West Leicestershire planning officer who dealt with our case was very helpful and advised that we would be best to hire an architect to draw up some plans, and details of the outside of the building as this is the main concern of the planners at this stage. Find out more about our architect here.

Once the plans were ready we sent them in to our planning officer for her thoughts before submission. She advised us that she loved the design, and also gave us some helpful tips which she said needed to be changed. These changes were only minor and mainly involved the symmetry of windows.

Our architect made those changes and the submission was officially made. We then had to call North West Leicestershire planning office in order to make the payment for the application, £72.50. The person who took the payment didn’t seem to have any idea how much to charge or what to put it down to so we had to explain in detail who he should inform.

A few days later our architect had a letter to say that we had not made payment and so the application hadn’t been validated. I called our planning officer who chased it up and managed to find the payment. Doesn’t inspire confidence! However our planning officer has advised that the application will be backdated to the date of payment and the decision will be made within 8 weeks.

Deadline 11/05/2016! Fingers crossed!