Can I convert a barn in a Conservation Area?

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Listed Barn complex conversion
In this article, we look at whether you can convert a barn into a house if your building is in a conservation area. In some areas of the country, known generally as ‘designated areas’, permitted development rights are more restricted. For example, if you live in a Conservation Area or a National Park you cannot convert your barn into a house through Class Q. This doesn’t mean you can’t convert your building, it just means that you will need to submit a full planning application. We will discuss how to approach this later in this article.

What is a conservation area?

Conservation areas are designated by Local Authorities. Every local authority in England has at least one conservation area and there are around 10,000 in England. The best way to find out is to look on your Council’s website. An interesting fact is that conservation areas in England cover an area larger than Luxembourg. 59% of these are in rural areas. [Source: Historic England]

Key Considerations in Converting a Barn within a Conservation Area

It is important when looking to approach a conversion project to understand the building you are converting. What is its history? How was it used? How can these spaces work with an internal layout that will suit your needs? These are all fundamental questions in working out how you will propose to convert the building. And form the basis of a strong application for planning permission.
The design needs to stay true to the ‘form’ of the original building. It is important to work with existing openings and take cues from the existing building to inform the internal layout as this will all help to protect the building’s character.
There are often certain features internal and external that will not only add character to your final design but are also important aspects of the history of the building.
Thatch roof House
Stone Barn ready for Conversion
Converted barn lounge ideas
Converted barn with fire
Old roof tiles on barn

Submit a barn conversion application in a Conservation Area

Old Barns make great habitats for bats, birds and owls all of which are protected by law. An application for the change of use of a barn to a house in a conservation area is likely to need a bat survey, a heritage assessment of some form and a structural survey as a bare minimum.
A heritage statement will help you to understand the history of the barn, it will also help the planning authority too and will support the design process you have followed in deciding on how to convert the barn.
A structural survey is a key element in the design process as this will help to identify any issues with the structure early on and allow you to work with the existing key components of the building and protect them for years to come.
An ecological report will establish whether there is potential for protected species (Read more here) to live in the barn and if so, how many and how best to re-home them. Ecology is often cited as a significant delay in planning applications as the survey season is relatively short –late spring to early autumn. It is worth considering this early on in your project to avoid unnecessary delay further down the line.
Bird Nest
Barn Conversion stone with thatch

Can I convert a Listed Barn? 

We will cover Listed Buildings in a separate article as they are a whole topic in their own right. But in short, yes you can convert your Listed Barn. Similar to barns in conservation areas often the best way to protect a Listed Barn is to use it as a dwelling as they are generally not fit for modern day agricultural use and become poorly maintained.  
If you wish to learn more about converting a listed barn, feel free to get in touch.  

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