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A guide to Class Q planning permission

Class Q was introduced in 2014 as a form of permitted development designed to help ease the pressure on housing in rural areas. This type of planning permission allows the change of buildings that meet certain criteria from agricultural to residential use.

The criteria for Class Q permitted developments state that the building must have been used for agriculture on or before the 20th March 2013, however, some exceptions do apply. Class Q planning permission can not be granted for buildings in areas of natural beauty, National Parks, conservation areas or if the building is listed.

Existing suitable buildings with a total floor space of up to 450sqm can be converted into a maximum of three individual dwellings, however, under Class Q you cannot extend the building itself and the garden of the property cannot be bigger than the building’s footprint.

New build in an agricultural area

Reasonable changes can be made to the building to allow it to be used as a home. These changes can include replacing windows, doors, roofing, water, drainage and other services. Under the same clause, you can undertake partial demolition.

As part of the process, you will often need to have a structural appraisal to ensure that the current building can support the conversion without too many adaptations. Under Class Q, replacing foundations or load-bearing flooring isn’t allowed – and adding the first floor can be tricky business. If any of these changes are likely to be needed, you would need to go through full planning permission rather than opting for Class Q.

What are the pros of Class Q development projects?

When compared to full planning permission, Class Q planning permission has a lower upfront cost and does not require quite the same level of technical detail as full planning permission does. Class Q also allows a route into developing homes in rural areas without having to meet an exception policy.

Class Q planning

What are the cons of Class Q planning permission?

Whilst the amount of technical information required for the application isn’t as extensive as it is for a full planning permission application, you will still likely need technical information on noise, contamination, flooding and more. Despite this technical information difference, a Class Q application is no faster than full planning permission. To qualify for Class Q, you must also be able to demonstrate that the building was used for an agricultural purpose on a specific date set in the legislation or the date when the building was last in use.


What does the future hold?

A review of the current planning permission system for rural projects was announced in 2016 and is likely to affect Class Q developments once the review has been completed. The proposals are considering changing the restrictions to allow for the conversion of properties up to 750sqm in size when being used for five individual properties whilst also increasing the allowable size when the conversion is creating three residential units.

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Last updated | 13 Oct. 2021

A guide to Class Q planning permission

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