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Self build Class Q


Neil999
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Hi nice to meet everyone. I am just starting out on my journey and looking to attempt a class Q conversion.

 

I have done a LOT of research into the matter and consulted 2 planners and although I accept their advice I am struggling with their recommendation.

 

Currently I have a large barn built with part steel frame, blockwork full height on both end, half height down the sides, with a tin roof. Next to this approx 1mtr away is an open fronted lambing shed which is part blockwork, half height walls and a couple of steel supports.

 

Their advice is to only go for class Q on the larger building for reasons such as "not enough structure in the smaller building" or "it may complicate things".

 

My problem is that I need the additional space. The barn by itself does not have enough space to make a home for us as we have 2 kids and I also need a small bedsit space for my mother.Their advice is to get class Q initially on the main barn and then submit for planning to extend and include the smaller shed. Does this sound like the best coarse of action in your opinion ? I am a pretty open and honest guy and this seems somewhat underhanded and I'm conscious it mate get the local authorities back up. Though I'm told it won't and " that's just how it's done"..

 

Any advice on the above is really appreciated. But with the assumption this is the only way forward...

Next steps

Firstly I am going to file a pre-apps which I understand is approx £200 and includes a site visit. The smaller barn is currently being used to house stuff that would generally be in a garage and this building has half its roof missing and in need of repair. The larger building has a tractor and other agricultural stuff in. 

 

Is there anything I should do or be aware of saying either before or when this happens? 

 

Should I say I want this smaller barn to be a garage ? Should I agree to knock it down ? I just want to ensure I am in a position to answer appropriately when needed. Also regarding proving it was in use agriculturally for the past 10 years ? Will I actually need to do this ? I naught the house 4 years ago and on the sale photos it shows a combine and straw in the barn and the seller told me it's been there for the past 6 years or so.. will they track him down and confirm this ? Or do I need to ?

 

Thanks for any advice and I have a ton more questions including (roofing, solar, self drilling a borehole, self drawing architect designs) to which I will raise in appropriate catagories.

 

Regards

 

Neil

 

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Neil

 

Class Q is a well worn path and the key is the interpretation in your local area. 

 

I would strongly advise you find a local planning consultant who can show you successful local Class Q applications and follow their advice on what is applicable and passable.

 

Two thoughts

 

1) Many people obtain class Q and then convert that planning right into a completely new build on the principal of 'fall back' (i.e. you have the right to build under class Q and therefore the planners are compelled to allow the new scheme particularly if it is more aesthetically pleasing and environmentally efficient) 

 

2) Up to 500msq can be sub divided across barns on your site - this may mean you can get approval for more than one barn and 'reallocate' to make a scheme that is the right size - again you are going to get class Q first and then go for a new replacement scheme as above.

 

Finally like you i wanted to do it the right way and stick to the rules - getting an approval under class Q and then a new scheme is what the rules allow - what you must do is use the law and the rules as others have done and follow a methodical process to get what is best for you and your family.

 

If you want to dig any deeper drop me a line - i have just completed the above process,

 

Cheers

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Hi Neil, and welcome.

 

Don't rush in with the Class Q, you definitely need to get your ducks in a row before applying, as if you get any aspect wrong at the application stage it could stop the Class Q.

 

Difficult to know if you are being advised correctly without more info re. condition, structural worthiness etc. and knowledge of how your LPA respond to Class Q prior notifications.

 

Definitely don't propose to knock the smaller barn down under a Class Q, there would be no benefit. When I did mine (Class MB then) there was also no pre-App process either, you had to go straight in, plus it was only £90 for the Prior Notification, so cheaper than a pre-App.

 

All LPA's do not appear to treat Class Q's in the same way. You need to review every Class Q your LPA has Allowed and Rejected to understand what they will and won't accept.

 

Some of the legislation is "black and white", so not up for interpretation. Have you gone through the rules and know your barns/sheds fit the requirements of location, floor area etc.

Other bits of the legislation are more subjective and depends on whether your LPA are generally for or against them.

The most subjective aspect is probably whether the required works to convert to a dwellinghouse are "reasonably necessary". My LPA is strict on this and expects none of the 4 sides of the building to be "open", even though you are allowed to replace walls. A neighbouring LPA allows one side to be open, other's I've seen have allowed a pole barn to be converted.

My LPA is also strict on flooring, if it's not got a concrete floor, they won't allow the conversion.

 

Current or last Use being Agricultural, is relatively clear, but understand the definition of Agriculture. It doesn't include equestrian or storing hay for non-Agricultural animals, or storing anything that is domestic or light-industrial in nature. My LPA has rejected prior notification because there have been logs stored in the barn or a car, although I have seem some LPA's be a little more relaxed.

 

It's best to clear the barns/sheds out before the LPA come on site. If the LPA finds its current Use is other than Agricultural you will stop any chance of a Class Q for at least 10 years. You do need to be able to say when the barns/shed were last in Use in Agriculture, but you don't need proof - you just need to ensure it can't be dis-proved.

 

The barns/sheds need to be (or have been) part of an Agricultural unit. Did you buy the "whole farm" (even though it is no longer a working farm), or just the buildings away from the farm, and is the farm they were part of still a working farm. What matters is it is the Agricultural Unit that has the PD, not the buildings. If the Farm that the barns were part of is still operating, then you will need to be asking them to accept you are using up their Permitted Development Rights. If I was them, I wouldn't accept that as it puts restrictions on them with regards to using Class Q in the future as well as Class A & B Agricultural PD.

 

If, as is happening a lot, the land of the farm has been absorbed in to a neighbouring farm (and a separate Agricultural Unit), and you have purchased the old Farmhouse and some Outbuildings, then you have effectively purchased the Agricultural Unit, and as such the PD remains with you. Proving what the Agricultural Unit is, is often more onerous than the Use or last Use of the barns/sheds themselves.


With regards to strategy, is there any chance your LPA would consider a Change of Use of the Barns/Sheds to resi? The rules for Class Q are strict, and you may be able to build/convert a better property under a Full Planning App, rather than a Class Q. It will almost certainly be cheaper to convert. This may be worth doing a pre-App for, if the answer is not known, but "sanitise" the barns first in case you need to go the Class Q route.

 

If they won't consider a Change of Use under a full planning App, then go the Class Q route. But, the LPA should then take an Approved Class Q in to account if you were to follow up with a Full Planning App. 

Edited by IanR
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7 hours ago, Neil999 said:

. The smaller barn is currently being used to house stuff that would generally be in a garage

 

To qualify for class Q they must be (and have been) in agricultural use for 10 years I think.

 

You must read up on what counts as agricultural use. 

 

Check Google Street View and the like doesn't help the planners refuse your application. 

 

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4 hours ago, Temp said:

To qualify for class Q they must be (and have been) in agricultural use for 10 years I think.

 

The 10 year rule is only for buildings built after 20.03.2013. The earliest such a building could qualify is in just over a year's time.

 

Buildings built prior just have to be be in Use, or if now redundant, last Used, in Agriculture.

 

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/596/schedule/2/part/3/crossheading/class-q-agricultural-buildings-to-dwellinghouses/made

 

Edited to add the 2018 & 2020 Revisions to Class Q:

 

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/596/schedule/2/part/3/crossheading/class-q-agricultural-buildings-to-dwellinghouses

 

The Revisions change the area of conversion as well as increasing the max number of new properties to 5 from 3, opening up some other opportunities. There's not yet been a re-write of the "The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order" to incorporate these revisions in to the main Class Q, so the two documents need to be read together.

Edited by IanR
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12 hours ago, Neil999 said:

...

I have done a LOT of research into the matter and consulted 2 planners

...

Is there anything I should do or be aware of saying either before or when this happens? 

...

 

Thank you very much for doing your own research before posting here. It helps us help members in a more focused way.

Just checking;

 

In addition to the research you've done, the excellent advice given here and by others, have you 

  • looked for similar applications on line in your area?
  • read those Decision Notices really carefully ?
  • looked at how those decisions may be relevant to your case?

I ask because in discussion with relevant 'others' it is as well to know the local decisions in some detail. It makes you less of a target.

 

Better put

12 hours ago, bob the builder 2 said:

...

Class Q is a well worn path and the key is the interpretation in your local area. 

...

 

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Hi thank you for the great feedback and insight. It really is appreciated. 

Further Information
-- images below of the large barn and lambing shed

image1

image2

image3

image4

location/ ownership
- We live down a country track a mile long with no real sight of roads, people or anything that would restrict conversion.
- We own the farm which now only comprises of our building (which we wish to sell) and these 2 buildings (barn and lambing shed).
- I have reviewed other class Q conversions in the area. There are many and one of the planning consultants said that our authority were much better and easier than the nearest other.
- Our LPA seem generally FOR Class Q conversions (there have been a few of them along our road and on our track)
- The large barn and smaller lambing shed have concrete slabs that are in good condition and there is zero subsidance. 
- The large barn is clear and only contains a small old tractor and a bunch of hay 
- The smaller barn currently is half full of old belongings (table saw,tables, gym etc) because i was told that it has not got any chance of being included in Class Q and i HAVE to store this stuff somewhere i fugured it didnt matter and should affect anything . Please can one of you clarify if this is wise with the assumption that this building will only ever possibly be converted under full planning in the future. 
- My vision for a completed property would be to join both buildings and extend the larger barn but keep everything as one level to avoid underpinning and any negative impact to the surroundings.

@Bobthebuilder2 - Thanks  - I have spoken with 2 planning consultants and both have said that the large banr may be viable but the smaller one was not and would detract. I just struggle to understand how 1. the small barn would not make sense being converted and 2. Why the planning consultants were sucking their teeth at whether the larger barn could be converted as it was a. not a fully steel structure and b. was not a fully stone building. Especially when just up our track a recent class Q had been acheved on a steel structure with no walls. It was literally just a rusty steel frame and a roof. This has since been cladded and is complete. 


@IanR  -  I am slightly confused about the Pre-app process. My initial understanding was that i needed to 1. get someone around from the council to review the building and then 2. Submit a prior approval application to convert the barn and wait the 56 days for the decision LPA . Is this now the best coarse of action ? or are you reccomending an alternative ? 

@IanR  -  Regarding your suggestion to convert/build new. What is attractive to me right now is that with a few breeze blocks, some cladding, insulation etc i could have a water tight structure relatively cheap. Plus i would like to keep the steel work that is in the barn as it is relatively ornate and would make nice features. 

@Temp & @IanR  -  Thanks for the clarification.

@ToughButterCup -  Yes there are numerous some of them i am amazed have passed which is why i was so confused as to me my barns look like a no brainer. 

So with the above in mind my assumption is that i should 1. obtain class Q and then 2. go for planning to join the smaller shed (as garage) and extend the front of the barn lengthwise by approox 35% to allow for a reasonable size living space. 

 

P.S I must note that i am running out of time personally. My mortgage is coming to an end and i am eager to sell my house but must first ensure that i can build on my barn. To do so i will need the cash from the sale. Hence the rush to get going.  

 

Thanks again for the advice. 

Neil.

Edited by Neil999
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2 hours ago, Neil999 said:

- The smaller barn currently is half full of old belongings (table saw,tables, gym etc) because i was told that it has not got any chance of being included in Class Q and i HAVE to store this stuff somewhere i fugured it didnt matter and should affect anything . Please can one of you clarify if this is wise with the assumption that this building will only ever possibly be converted under full planning in the future. 

 

With an LPA that is pro-Class Q, I feel the lambing shed has half a chance. The primary frame, while it has a bit of surface rust, still looks serviceable. The timber roof purlins are shot, but that shouldn't be an issue, you should be allowed to replace them. While the hole in the roof should not be an issue as it is not structural. I would repair it, hopefully with some aged profile sheeting, similar to what is up there. But it has to be like-for-like so that there can be no argument that the shed has undergone any development.

 

Since it stands a chance for Class Q, you have to clear it out of all that is non-agricultural. Buy in a container and use that for storage. It would come in handy during the build also.

 

2 hours ago, Neil999 said:

- My vision for a completed property would be to join both buildings and extend the larger barn but keep everything as one level to avoid underpinning and any negative impact to the surroundings.

 

Joining the two buildings is not possible under Class Q. You can not extend beyond the existing building(s') envelope. To do, this will require a Full Planning App and to get to a successful Approval the path may be via a Class Q first, in order to establish the Change of Use. This is not underhand, as your planning consultants stated, it is part of the process.

 

2 hours ago, Neil999 said:

@IanR   -  I am slightly confused about the Pre-app process. My initial understanding was that i needed to 1. get someone around from the council to review the building and then 2. Submit a prior approval application to convert the barn and wait the 56 days for the decision LPA . Is this now the best coarse of action ? or are you recommending an alternative ? 

 

For a Full Planning App, then the pre-App has value, especially on a scheme like this. For a Class Q, there is little subjective decision making on the LPA's behalf, you either fit the criteria or you do not. Maybe different LPA's do it differently, but my local LPA does not allow a pre-App for a Class Q,

 

But, it maybe worth sounding your LPA out with a pre-App on the Full Planning Application for the Scheme you want. They may be positive regarding you going straight to a Full Planning App, without needing to prove the case for the Change of Use first. However, you need to make sure both sheds fit the criteria for Class Q before the LPA first visit, since you may need to go the Class Q route if they suggest a Change of Use via Full Planning is not achievable, and you don't want them to be seeing the sheds being used as something other than Agricultural Use.

 

2 hours ago, Neil999 said:

@IanR  -  Regarding your suggestion to convert/build new. What is attractive to me right now is that with a few breeze blocks, some cladding, insulation etc i could have a water tight structure relatively cheap. Plus i would like to keep the steel work that is in the barn as it is relatively ornate and would make nice features. 

 

The Steel portal frame structure of your sheds (and mine), is a very lightweight structure, and is unlikely to be able to take the weight of the required roof insulation and framing to hold said insulation.

 

It could take the weight of insulated profile sheeting panels of the type Kingspan produce, but these come with some compromise and you will need to do your research to understand if you would accept the compromises. Without using the same panels to clad the walls, you'll have a difficult junction at the eaves to get an airtight and insulated joint between roof and walls. But, Class Q does not allow you to extend beyond the existing building envelope, so cladding outside the existing walls (and steel structure) is not possible.

 

Since you can't wrap the outside of the steel structure with the thermal envelope, you really need to consider putting the thermal envelope on the inside of the steel structure, so the steel work is outside of the thermal envelope and not causing cold bridges and potentially damp/condensation. Creating an insulated roof below an existing steel roof structure needs you to build a whole new timber roof structure just under the existing steel structure, sitting it on the outside walls plus internal load bearing walls if the spans require. The existing roof ends up just being a rain screen. That then raises the question of whether there is a sufficient ring-beam under the existing walls to take the weight of a new roof.

 

A Full Planning App should be more flexible, and should allow you to develop slightly outside the existing building envelope to put the steel structure inside the Thermal Envelope.

Edited by IanR
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@IanR thank you for the input/feedback. Again its really appreciated. I have taken what you have said on board and as such will resolve the potential issues having "stuff in the lambing shed" may cause to ensure the best possible fall back plan of Class Q. 

 

I believe now i am going to attempt to go down the full planning route and use Class Q as a fallback (if my understanding of the above is correct) it appears to be the best option. 

 

This might sound like a stupid question but can i please ask from the following documents what should i be requesting in order to begin the pre-app ? 

 

Planning Fees

 

Thank you. 

 

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20 hours ago, Neil999 said:

 

 

I believe now i am going to attempt to go down the full planning route and use Class Q as a fallback (if my understanding of the above is correct) it appears to be the best option. 

 

20 hours ago, Neil999 said:

 

Hi @Neil999 I have just done the same thing. Having the Class Q establishes the premise of development on the site. Once that is established its just a matter of tweaking the design during the full planning process. Just about to start the actual build now.

 

I made sure that we made the new build a slightly smaller footprint but did increase the height by 1.5m. Cornwall Council where I am like the buildings to be smaller  footprint than what is there. Initially the officer had some reservations about the height increase but the parish had no issues so on balance the officer could approve. So definitely worth getting the parish on side and local councillor, I met with the local councillor and made sure he was happy with my plans. Also I met with the parish just before I submitted the full planning app which they seemed to appreciate and I think helped.

 

In my app I bigged up the fact that I would be using renewables and the new build would be more sustainable overall than trying to convert the existing structure.

 

Just make sure in the planning app that you say you will be developing the site even if planning wasn't going to be granted as the fallback position must have a realistic chance of taking place.

 

If you want any help or advice please feel free to message.

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Hi Neil

 

If possible, I would also recommend a local planning consultant with a proven track record due to the variation in how the specifics of Class Q are interpreted by LPAs.

 

I've been advised, for instance, that our LPA doesn't really care for any fall back arguments, despite many other LPA's considering them.

 

You may find Martin Goodall's blog useful if you haven't seen it already.

 

example article

https://planninglawblog.blogspot.com/2021/05/partial-demolition-in-advance-of.html

 

site search for class q

https://planninglawblog.blogspot.com/search?q=class+q

 

Edited by Trillip
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Hi. @Si3 thank you for the advice. I realise I have 2 routes. 

 

1. Class q followed by full planning and 

2. Pre app followed by full planning falling back on Q.

 

My issues are that 

1. I keep getting conflicting advice 

2. Class Q alone will not provide adequate space for my family.

 

@Trillip So far I have consulted 2 planning consultants who both have me slightly different opinions. I have a third coming tomorrow so I can obtain further advice. I have also just had a structural engineer around who said that with some basic additions of ply wood we can provide enough support to convert the existing steel structure into a house "as is" which in my view is brilliant as far as retaining existing features and meeting class Qs main requirement of "easier to convert than rebuild". 

 

I still don't fully understand why the parish would be involved as we are way out of town. Could you please clarify on that ? I also will absolutely be looking to use renewables, solar/wind,  heat pumps and a potential green roof so I am hopeful this all goes for me.

 

I am still teetering on submitting but hopefully I will be moving forward in one direction in the next 2 weeks as I absolutely need to get moving on this.

 

Thanks again for everyone's advice. I will report back.

 

 

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HI 

 

just catching up on the posts above - 3 things jumped out to me

 

1) You need to obtain class Q approval before falling back on it for full planning

2) If you can go for a 'new build' via full planning - i too thought long and hard about conversion but am glad i now have the chance to build from scratch which is much more straight forward / cost effective and will definitely deliver a better house 

2) This will take time - unless you need to sell sit tight - the cost of rent and pressure to take short cuts are not worth it if you can possibly avoid it

 

Good luck 

 

Good Luck 

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@Neil999 I had lots of conflicting views as well. I finally made the decision that I wanted to progress and tried to focus on the bits the were positive and forget all the negativity. If you don’t you’ll drive yourself mad.

 

We had the same issue with the barn not having enough height to be able to provide the bedrooms upstairs so everything would have been downstairs meaning we would have had a very tigh space. That was the reason I went in for full planning. We managed to get approval to raise the height by 1.5m so we could get all 3 bedrooms upstairs. Getting the Class Q agreed made it easier to make the changes I needed to make the space work for my family. 

 

With regards to the Parish being involved - In Cornwall the County Council ultimately say yay or nay but all applications get referred to the local parish council for their thoughts. Having no objections from them makes things a lot easier. Not sure if things work the same I. Your neck of the woods??

 

 

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On 16/01/2022 at 17:06, Neil999 said:

I have also just had a structural engineer around who said that with some basic additions of ply wood we can provide enough support to convert the existing steel structure into a house "as is" which in my view is brilliant as far as retaining existing features and meeting class Qs main requirement of "easier to convert than rebuild". 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you sure you have asked the right questions. This sounds "unlikely" to say the least.

 

I cant for a moment imagine that will comply with buildings regs.

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