Conversions and Change Of Use

We’re often asked for suggestions on how to redevelop redundant buildings. Traditional farm buildings may no longer be practical for modern farming methods. The buildings are often a poor state of repair and will likely fall to ruin without considerable expenditure. Alternative uses can generally be found. Conversions and changes of use can range from houses and holiday homes to commercial developments including retail and office premises. We enjoy the challenge of working with existing buildings taking influences from small details and remodelling them to inspire often radical changes.

Farm building conversion change of use to cottages

An old farmhouse and outbuildings converted to create three holiday cottages around a south facing yard

Permitted Development

Government policy currently actively promotes new housing development. In rural areas it can be difficult to persuade the planning departments of the benefits of new builds. Occasionally, demolition of an existing property may be the simplest way of achieving what you are after.

Permitted development rules were changed in 2015 to extend the possibilities for changes of use. Shops can be turned into restaurants and cafés or leisure uses. Agricultural buildings can now be changed to commercial or housing use. There are restrictions on areas and heights, and prior approval is required from the local authority. The council will need to consider highways and noise impact of the development; they will also need to take into account site contamination risks and possible flooding issues.

Change of use from agricultural to new house

A single storey development of old barns incorporating original brick columns around a sheltered internal courtyard

change of use from farm to house with circular brick columns

A listed farm building with unusual circular brick columns and an internal yard was changed from a farm to two houses

Laminated ring beam with rafter ends to brick columns

Laminated ring beam with exposed rafter ends adds detail to over the rebuilt circular brick columns


Planning applications

When considering alterations and changes to a building, there are often several alternatives to bear in mind. Planning departments will often be able to give you some first hand advice. You will need some sketches or photographs to show the existing site or building to the planning officer along with some drawings to illustrate what you are after. You won’t receive a definite response but you should glean an indication of the likely outcome of any application.

We prepare before and after drawings for both you and the planners. From experience of previous applications, we can advise on design issues. Each local authority planning department has different guidelines and priorities. We can assist with what is likely to be acceptable to various planning departments.