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From agricultural to residential: a guide to Class Q planning

Words from Mariyana Hartland – Chartered Architectural Technologist within our in-house Architectural Design team


Having an agricultural barn in the open countryside doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a journey for creating a more exciting and inspirational building. Introduced in 2014, Class Q is a form of permitted development which supports housing supply in rural areas (such as open countryside and green belt land) and those areas without defined settlement boundaries.


An example Class Q case study:

The image below is of an application we submitted for planning permission after our client secured prior approval. This is for a new dwelling in open countryside. The existing building is a tired steel framed structure. As you can see from the images, we have proposed a replacement oak framed dwelling that is complimented with a combination of materials such as local Cotswold stone and slate, creating a lovely lifetime home for our clients.

Proposed dwelling

What does the legislation for Class Q permitted development apply to?

Class Q permitted development applies to buildings that were used for agriculture on or before 20th March 2013, more specifically:

“(a) a change of use of a building and any land within its curtilage from a use as an agricultural* building to a use falling within Class C3 (dwelling houses) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order;


(b) building operations reasonably necessary to convert the building referred to in paragraph (a) to a use falling within Class C3 (dwelling houses) of that Schedule.”

*Agricultural use is defined as a business when also demonstrating a profit, so recreational use or growing produce as a hobby would not benefit from Class Q.

Under the latest amendments, Class Q includes two types of dwellings:

  • Smaller dwelling houses – 5 units; no more than 100 m2 each
  • Larger dwelling houses – 3 units; 465 m2 each

Using both categories could result in 5 dwellings and up to 865 m2.


What does the legislation for Class Q permitted development not apply to?

  • Conservation Areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), The Broads and National Parks
  • World Heritage Sites
  • Designated scheduled monuments or listed buildings
  • Extending or enlarging the existing building beyond its existing external dimensions
  • Conversion of a building that is not part of an agricultural business on or prior to March 2013 or for a period of 10 years form that date.


Do you have a potential project in mind?

Even if you’re unsure as to whether your building would qualify for Class Q permitted development, we can help. Our Architectural Design team have years of planning experience and can provide expert advice on an individual basis. Our initial discussions include site appraisals and design consultations, so call us on 01432 353 353 and let us guide you through the planning process.