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Sun June 20 2021

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Government plans further relaxation of planning rules

7 Aug 13 The government is proposing to remove some planning restrictions on the conversion of buildings on brownfield sites.

More barn conversions on the way?
More barn conversions on the way?

A consultation paper from planning minister Nick Boles proposes making it easier to bring empty and underused buildings back into use.

The core aim is to help revitalises high streets but it would also allow farm owners to convert barns into homes without planning permission.

The proposed extension of permitted development rights would allow conversions from:

  • retail to residential: letting shops become homes
  • retail to banks and building societies
  • agricultural to residential: barn conversions
  • commercial to nurseries: allowing offices and hotels to convert to facilities
  • agricultural to new schools and nurseries: but only if the school or nursery is state funded.

Mr Boles said: “Thousands of empty and underused buildings, often on the edge of town centres, are going to waste because people do not want the hassle and uncertainty of submitting a planning application.

“Removing this barrier will bring more people closer to their town centres, providing a much needed boost to local shops and ensuring we make the most of buildings that are already there for new homes, nurseries and schools this country needs.

“Extending these permitted development rights on brownfield land will benefit all communities – whether in towns or the countryside.”

However, relexation of the rules will not be extended conservation areas, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The consultation paper, Greater flexibilities for change of use, can be read in full at

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