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Changes to Permitted Development Rights

31 August 2021

With dairy farming becoming increasingly efficiency driven, with smaller herds becoming less common and businesses consolidating farming operations at one steading, recent changes to planning legislation and in particular to Permitted Development Rights (PDR), may be of interest to dairy farmers. The changes to PDR could make it easier and less costly to build a new shed, extend an existing one and to develop a redundant steading into domestic or commercial use.

Permitted Development Rights are minor, uncontroversial developments or changes to existing developments. PDR allow agricultural business to make changes to existing buildings or erect new agricultural buildings without the need for a full planning application.

This seems to have flown under a lot of people’s radar but positive changes have just occurred to PDR. The Scottish Government, after some lobbying by NFUS, has taken steps to modernise what developments are permitted on farm under PDR, bringing it in line with those in England and Wales, reflecting the needs of modern agricultural businesses.

Changes to PDR in Scotland came into force on the 1st of April 2021.

So, what has changed?

  • The permitted size of Agricultural sheds, under PDR, has increased from 465sqm to 1,000sqm.
  • Extensions to sheds are now permitted, under PDR, to be up to 20% of the cubic content of the existing building.
  • Agricultural or forestry buildings (constructed before the 4th of November 2019) can be converted, under PDR, to residential use or commercial use.
    • Residential – up to 5 dwellings (houses or flats).
    • Commercial – up to 500sqm commercial space.
  • Peatland restoration projects will be permitted to proceed without applying for planning permission.
  • PDR for connectivity infrastructure has also been introduced to help address connectivity issues.

Farmers will save time and money, as well as reducing the workload of local planning authorities. This will in turn aid those who are going through the full planning process, hopefully decreasing the time it takes for the local planning authority to process their application. However, it is important to remember that this does not mean than that you can start building without notifying anyone.

Despite the changes, there remains a requirement to apply for Prior Notification/Prior Approval from the relevant local authority at an early stage for any PDR projects. The typical Application Fee for this is £78. The planning authority has 28 working days from receipt of application to respond and may request for a full planning application to be made if it considers that the development is likely to have a significant impact on the surroundings.

These changes not only benefit farmers through reducing the potential cost of development by increasing the scale of permitted developments, they also present diversification opportunities, with a chance to utilise redundant buildings and boost farm income through the permitted development of existing steadings into domestic or commercial use.

In all cases of building work or change of use, it is advisable to consult with the local planning authority or take professional advice before progressing with the development.

James Orr

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