A Comprehensive Guide to Class Q Planning Permission

by | May 27, 2023 | Loft Conversion | 0 comments

What can you do with agricultural buildings if you own them and they’re no longer needed or if you’re a farmer looking to diversify? A Class Q planning permission could be used to transform them into residential or commercial properties.

For converting some agricultural structures into homes or businesses, Class Q planning permission is a special kind of permitted development that does not require full planning approval. But strict eligibility requirements must be fulfilled, in addition to various planning and building regulations that must be considered.

In this article, we’ll review all the details of Class Q planning permission.

What Is Class Q Planning?

Before digging into the class q planning guidance, it is essential to understand the term first. So, what is class q planning? 

A type of permitted development right known as Class Q planning allows for converting agricultural structures into homes in the UK without submitting a formal planning application. This type of planning permission was first introduced in 2014 as a part of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Class Q planning permission encourages the transformation of vacant agricultural buildings into residences or businesses to revitalise rural areas and preserve their unique character and heritage. The objective is to better use the existing structures rather than erect brand-new ones, which might hurt the surrounding environment and landscape.

Eligibility for Class Q Planning Permission

To determine your Class Q planning permission eligibility, you must do so before beginning a conversion project. Following are some justifications for why each criterion matters, along with additional information on each:

Agricultural Buildings

Before March 20, 2013, the building needed to be used only for agricultural purposes to be granted Class Q planning permission. This stipulation is essential because it guarantees that only structures not used for agriculture are converted. By doing this, the distinctive character of the surrounding countryside and the loss of valuable farmland are avoided.


The building must be placed on some agricultural land. This requirement is crucial because it ensures that the conversion occurs in a suitable rural area, not in an urban or suburban one. Limiting urban sprawl, this helps to maintain the rural character of the area.


Buildings up to 465 square metres in size can be converted. Included in this are any earlier ad-ons or enlargements to the original structure. This requirement is vital because it guarantees that only more minor, unused agricultural buildings are being converted. Doing so makes it possible to stop the conversion of sizable, operational farm buildings still required for agricultural use.


The building must have been there on March 20, 2013, inclusive, or earlier. This requirement is crucial because it ensures that only outdated, abandoned agricultural buildings are converted. This assists in preventing the conversion of more recent structures that might still be required for agricultural purposes.

Additional Eligibility Criteria

The building’s foundation must be strong, and access must be practical. There are only these two conditions that must be fulfilled. These requirements are essential to ensure that the building can be transformed and that the final product will be safe and welcoming for the occupants.

Applying for Class Q Planning Permission

Requesting Class Q planning permission may be challenging, but with careful planning and knowledgeable direction, the project can be successfully completed. When requesting Class Q planning permission, you should do the following:

Check Eligibility

When applying for a Class Q planning permission, the first step is ensuring that the structure and the conversion comply with all requirements. This requires confirming that the structure is on agricultural land, that it is structurally sound, has the necessary access, and that it was solely used for agricultural purposes on or before March 20, 2013.

Prepare the Application

Following the determination of eligibility, the Class Q planning permission application must be prepared. Along with any other necessary documentation, such as structural surveys or environmental impact assessments, this entails supplying comprehensive plans and drawings of the proposed conversion.

Submit the Application

The completed Class Q planning permission application must be submitted to the relevant local planning authority. If the proposed conversion complies with all applicable building and planning regulations, planning officers will examine the application.

Respond to Requests for Additional Information

During the application process for the proposed conversion, the planning authority may request additional information or justifications. Responses to these requests must be made as soon as possible, along with any information required, to guarantee that the application is processed as quickly as possible.

Receive Decision

The decision regarding whether to grant Class Q planning permission will be made after the planning authority has evaluated the application and any additional data. The planned conversion can start if permission is given. If permission is refused, it’s crucial to get expert counsel and consider appealing the decision.

Planning Considerations

A Class Q planning permission application must be evaluated considering several planning factors. A few of these are 

Impact on the Surrounding Area

The proposed conversion must not negatively impact the neighbourhood, including nearby properties, the environment, and community amenities. This includes ensuring the conversion won’t result in excessively high demand for parking spaces or clog the roads.

Compliance with Building Regulations

The proposed conversion shall be by all applicable building regulations, including structural soundness, fire safety, and accessibility. Doing this ensures the finished item is safe and suitable for use in either residential or commercial settings.

Preservation of the Agricultural Landscape

The proposed conversion shall not detract from the distinctive character or aesthetic of the agricultural landscape. It also entails safeguarding the building’s original character and preventing the conversion from producing an unsightly or out-of-place structure.

Noise and Nuisance

The proposed conversion for the neighbours must cause no excessive noise or annoyance. This includes ensuring the conversion doesn’t disturb the neighbourhood’s residents through noise, light pollution, or other actions that might lower their quality of life.

Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings

If the proposed conversion would involve a listed structure or be located in a conservation area, additional planning considerations would be required. As part of this, it must be ensured that the conversion respects the neighbourhood’s aesthetics and character and does not lessen the historical or cultural significance of any listed structures.

Building Regulations

Building codes are a set of federal regulations that guarantee structures are built safely, efficiently, and sustainably. It is crucial to follow all applicable building regulations when converting an agricultural building under Class Q planning permission to create a secure and appropriate structure for residential or commercial use. When requesting Class Q planning permission, the crucial building regulations listed below should be taken into account:

Structural Stability

The conversion that is being considered must be legally compliant and structurally sound. As part of this, it must be determined that the building’s structure is solid and that the conversion can be executed without endangering it.  

Fire Safety

All class q barn conversion rules governing fire safety must be followed during the proposed conversion. To do this, check that the building has enough exits, fire alarms, and fire suppression tools, such as sprinklers or fire extinguishers.


The proposed conversion must meet all accessibility requirements. This includes ensuring the structure has facilities like wheelchair ramps and accessible restrooms and is accessible to people with disabilities.

Ventilation and Lighting

The proposed conversion shall comply with the ventilation and lighting requirements in all material respects. This involves, among other things, ensuring that the structure has adequate ventilation to prevent moisture buildup and dampness, as well as adequate natural and artificial lighting to create a secure and comfortable environment.

Energy Efficiency

To the maximum extent possible, the proposed conversion must be energy efficient. To achieve this, ensuring the building is adequately insulated, equipped with efficient heating and cooling systems, and constructed using environmentally friendly materials and practises whenever possible is crucial.

Common Issues and Challenges

Obtaining a Class Q planning permit to convert an agricultural building can be challenging, and applicants may encounter many frequent issues and challenges. Some of the most common issues and challenges to consider are listed below:

Compliance with Planning Regulations

Ensuring all applicable planning regulations are followed is one of the biggest challenges when converting an agricultural building. Planning permission may be denied, incur additional costs, or take longer if regulations are not followed.

Structural Issues

Older agricultural buildings may have structural issues that make conversion challenging. For instance, the proposed conversion might not be supported by the structure to a sufficient degree. Delays and additional costs can be avoided with early problem identification and remediation.  

Utility Connections

Frequently, utilities like water, gas, and electricity must be connected to convert an agricultural building. In addition to being expensive to install or upgrade connections, the building’s location can make it difficult to connect to utilities.

Noise and Nuisance

The conversion of an agricultural building might annoy and disturb neighbours, sparking complaints that could stall the planning process. For instance, construction-related noise and activity could annoy neighbours, and the conversion might increase traffic or cause parking problems.


Finding funding for the project can be challenging because converting an agricultural building can be expensive. If traditional lenders are unwilling to finance a conversion project, it may be necessary to find alternative funding sources.

Time Constraints

Applicants must submit their request for a Class Q planning permission within four years of the permitted development rights being enacted. Permitted development rights may be lost, and a complete planning application may be necessary if these deadlines are missed.

Get It Done By PowerPillar!

POWERPILLAR, a renowned consultancy, can assist with a class Q planning permission in several ways. We can determine whether the agricultural building is acceptable, create and submit a planning application, offer guidance on planning principles and building codes, and manage the entire project from start to finish. Working with professionals like POWERPILLAR makes the planning and conversion process easier for applicants and more successful, resulting in a property that can be enjoyed for many years.


A Class Q planning permit provides an excellent opportunity to convert abandoned agricultural structures into desirable residential or commercial properties. However, confirming that you comply with all requirements and building codes is imperative.

Before starting a barn conversion planning permission project, get advice from a qualified individual, such as an architect or planning consultant. They can guide you through the process and help you avoid potential obstacles.

Although converting an agricultural building under Class Q planning permission can be a complex process, it can also be a rewarding and successful project with careful planning and professional guidance.


What is Class Q planning permission?
Class Q planning permission allows converting agricultural buildings into residential dwellings without full planning permission.
What are Class Q permitted development rights?
Class Q permitted development rights allow for the change of use of an agricultural building to a dwelling house, subject to certain conditions and limitations.
How long does class Q permission last?
Class Q permission typically lasts for three years from the date of approval.
What are the four types of planning permission?
The four types of planning permission are full planning permission, outline planning permission, reserved matters approval, and listed building consent.
What is the 10-year rule in building regulations?
The 10-year rule in building regulations states that if a building was constructed more than ten years ago, any work carried out on it should not make it less compliant with current building regulations.
What is the 56-day rule for Class Q planning?

The 56-day rule for Class Q planning allows for the completion of specific works required to convert an agricultural building to a dwelling, such as installing windows or doors, within 56 days of the date of approval.

Emmanuel Nwaebo

Emmanuel Nwaebo is the Managing Director at Powerpillar Ltd and has more than 25 years experience in building construction and renovations. He has a bachelor’s in Electronics and Electrical Engineering with certification in Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST). With an experience in managing construction and renovation services for years, he is extremely passionate about property management and loves helping people find their dream property.

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