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Changes to planning law will allow an increase in scale for permitted development of farm buildings


By David Porter

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From April 1 the Scottish Government will increase the scale of agricultural buildings that can be erected or extended under Permitted Development Rights (PDR).

PDR relate to minor, uncontroversial developments, or changes associated with existing developments, and reduce the burden on both applicants and planning authorities by helping remove the need to apply for planning permission.

The changes to PDR coming into force next month have been achieved by NFU Scotland on behalf of its members and represent a significant win for the industry.

The updates will include changes to the size limit on agricultural sheds available under PDR (from 465sqm to 1000sqm), and to the definition of significant extension/alteration which is being increased to 20 per cent of the cubic content of a building.

PDR is also going to include the conversion of agricultural and forestry buildings (constructed before 4/11/2019) to residential and commercial use: up to five dwellings (houses or flats) and 500sqm flexible commercial space, respectively.

Peatland restoration projects will be permitted to proceed without applying for planning permission, and PDR for connectivity infrastructure has also been introduced to help address connectivity issues.

Head of Policy, Gemma Cooper.
Head of Policy, Gemma Cooper.

It is important to remember that despite the changes, there remains a requirement to apply for prior approval from the relevant local authority at an early stage for any PDR projects.

NFU Scotland head of policy, Gemma Cooper, said: “The increase in shed floor area under permitted development to 1000sqm is a really big win for NFUS, and will help farmers wishing to build farm infrastructure that is reflective of the needs of modern industry.”

“This change has taken considerable stakeholder engagement and it has been very interesting to be involved in this.

"We also welcome the new PDR which offers the potential for conversion of some existing buildings to residential or commercial use, as this may open up some diversification opportunities and help bring redundant buildings back into use.”

“We would remind members to ensure that they use the prior notification process that is in place to ensure that they keep the right side of the law, and do not find themselves subject to any enforcement action.”


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