The Department for Communities and Local Government is reported to be consulting on the introduction of a new agricultural-to-residential permitted development right (PDR), which could drastically alter the way rural buildings are developed.

Under the new rules, a maximum of five new dwellings, each with a floorspace of 150m2, can be converted from a farm building of up to 750m2.

This is a change from the current stance, where three units can be created with a maximum floorspace of 450m2, or a single dwelling of 450m2 which is permitted under Class Q - which would not be permitted under the new rules.

The government document says it will also revise planning guidance to clarify what constitutes 'reasonably necessary' building work to convert barns to homes under the Class Q rules, as well as increasing the threshold to 465m2 to remove an anomaly.

Alister King-Smith, head of Stags planning services, said: "The shortage of housing in rural areas is recognised as a major problem by the government.

"By allowing larger agricultural barns to be converted in to a higher number of smaller homes, they can be seen to be helping the supply of affordable housing."

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