Rural areas across the UK are subject to changing legislation in the UK, with new rules saying that existing barns or agricultural buildings can be transformed into five dwellings without the need for planning permission. Currently the law states that barns or other buildings can be turned into three homes without the need for permission, so this is an increase of potentially 66%.
The Local Government Association, or LGA, says that the new regulations, which come into force on 6 April, may lead to a dramatic increase in the number of conversions. All of these extra dwellings, without considered planning permission, could place an undue burden on existing services and infrastructure. The new houses will not necessarily be contributing anything in return to the local services.
The warning follows the figures that the conversion of barns to residential spaces has increased by 46% over the last two years. In the last 12 months, 19,000 new homes have been converted from old office space, barns and storage. And much of this has being done without the need for any involvement from the local authority. This also means that there has been a shortfall in the number of affordable homes without any investment to support new households. In some parts of the country, over 30% of new developments were old office spaces. And council leaders are now calling on the government to give them power to have a say over new developments and ensure that they meet community needs.
Martin Tett, the LGA spokesperson, said: ‘Councils want to see more affordable homes built quickly and the conversion of offices, barns and storage facilities into residential flats is one way to deliver much needed homes’.
He added: ‘However it is vital that councils and local communities have a voice in the planning process. At present, permitted development rules allow developers to bypass local influence and convert existing buildings to flats, and to do so without providing affordable housing and local services and infrastructure such as roads and schools.’
It is also true that by avoiding planning regulations, rural areas could be unduly affected. And while it is true that here in the UK we need more new homes, this should not come at the expense of sensible planning and investment in local services.
To find out more about barn conversions and the rules in place and new regulations, or if you would like to chat about anything to do with property investment, give us a ring on Norwich 01603 567804 or send us a message.
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