Often we hear farmers or their friends say, ‘it’s easy to put a barn up, you don’t need planning for that’ or ‘I don’t actually need permission do I?’. Whilst we can understand why they might think this, a steer towards 28-day prior notifications and permitted development usually helps to avoid any difficulties.

Specifically, Class A, Schedule 2, Part 6 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 relates to agricultural development on units of five hectares or more. Under Class A, permitted development is classed as works relating to a building (erection, extension or alteration) and any excavation or engineering operations which are reasonably necessary for the purposes of agriculture within that unit.

Most commonly, Class A is used by those with holdings to erect new agricultural buildings, such as grain sheds, hay and straw storage, slurry covers and livestock housing. However, it is important to understand that there are a number of criteria that must be met by a Class A permitted development proposal.

First and foremost, Class A permitted development always requires prior approval.  This is key.  This simply means that an application (28-day prior notification) must be made to the Local Planning Authority before the work or operations commence. If the work has already begun it is not possible to utilise Class A permitted development and would require a retrospective, full application.

If works have not commenced, you can then look to see whether the proposal meets the other criteria of Class A which includes:

  1. That the proposal is going to be erected/extended/altered on a parcel of land greater than 1 Hectare in size. This means that if the building is proposed for an area of your holding that is separated from the rest of the holding and is smaller than 1 Hectare, you would not be able to use Class A. Often, new buildings are erected next to the existing farm buildings so point a is very rarely an issue.
  2. Whether Class Q or S development has been carried out on the holding – the interaction between use of other permitted development rights is important in determining whether prior approval routes are still available (and the future plans for the holding as use of Class A can prevent use of other rights for a certain period of time);
  3. The proposal must not be an extension, alteration or erection of a dwelling. This criteria speaks for itself; the building cannot be used residentially.
  4. The works taking place or structure must be designed for agricultural purposes. This means that if erecting a building, it must be a typical agricultural building and nothing that would be used for another purpose.
  5. The proposal must not exceed a floor area of 1,000 sq.m. This one is simple, the building must be smaller than this, otherwise will require a full application. What is important to note here is that Class A rights ‘renew’ every 2 years so a landowner can benefit from 1,000 sq.m. every 2 years.
  6. The height of any building or structure must be limited to 3 metres if within 3km of an aerodrome perimeter, or 12m in not within 3km of an aerodrome. This is a very simple parameter to be met.
  7. Any part of the development must not be within 25 metres of a metalled part of a trunk road or classified road. This means that if erecting a building, it cannot be closer than 25m to a public road.
  8. If the building or structure is to be used for either livestock housing, slurry or sewage sludge, it must be located 400m from the curtilage of a protected building. For this purpose, a protected building is one that is not connected to the holding that the application is being made on. So, if there is a neighbour or a property that is within 400m that is not connected to the holding or parcel of land that the structure is proposed on and it is to be used for the purposes listed, a full application must be made.
  9. If excavations or engineering operations are proposed on article 2(4) land and are connected with fish farming. This is a very niche parameter of Class A but must not be disregarded at any point.
  10. (i) A proposal that will store waste or fuel not produced from the land within the unit in relation to biomass boiler and an anaerobic digestion system. Again, this is a quite niche parameter and could be a grey area within Class A. Should there be any queries over this element, it is best to seek professional advice.  (ii) the building would be within 400m of the curtilage of a protected building. Again, this is the same criteria as point i) so must be carefully considered.

Whilst these parameters must be met in order for a proposal to qualify for permitted development rights under Class A, it is hugely important to also provide justification as to why the proposal is reasonably necessary for the purposes of agriculture. This means that the applicant must have good reason for requiring the building.  Our qualifications, background and understanding of farming assists us in putting the right justification forward for you.

The Council also has the ability to consider the siting, design and external appearance of the building and if they deem it necessary can respond to the application and state that they do require a full application or further information resulting in an extended notification period.  We have had this happen on one application where we had to submit further information, and elevational drawings, to allow the Conservation Office to assess the impact upon a nearby listed building.

So whilst you may often think that a 28-day prior notification for an agricultural building is easy to obtain and a simple process, it does require a lot of thought and assessment against the criteria to ensure that a) the proposal meets the criteria of Class A and b) justification as to the requirement of the building is provided.  Done correctly though it is a very effective route to provide new farm buildings in terms of both time and cost.

We are well versed at Eldnar Consultancy in prior approval applications, the requirements and their interaction with both historic and proposed development on farms so do get in touch if you have any queries or require any advice.  Don’t forget you can book in for a mini-chat (BOOK HERE) or email