Class Q-creating value

from disused buildings

Class Q Permitted Development rights have changed the way we look at certain buildings and the potential of redundant agricultural buildings; rightly so, with the possible values achieved.   

We have recently sold two redundant barns for prices substantially above their guide.  Both barns had very limited potential, being fairly remote and too small for alternative uses but the interest once Class Q was achieved was exceptional, with a huge number of offers received on both plots.  

However, whilst the rights have been widely reported as an ‘easy’ way to achieve residential planning permission, with around 60% of applications still being refused nationally, it is essential to ensure that proper advice is taken, firstly to minimise the chances of refusal and secondly to maximise opportunity/value.  

The fees for obtaining the permitted development rights on the two sites I mention above were under 5% of the values obtained, so there has been an excellent return on investment for our clients.

What is Class Q?

Class Q is a form of permitted development which was introduced in 2014 and allows the change of use of certain buildings from agriculture to residential use. Class Q has been a hot topic over recent years and has caused a great deal of discussion due to a number of disputes between planning officers and applicants regarding the interpretation of the criteria. 

Nationally there continues to be a high refusal rate, but Bidwells has a success rate of over 95%.

Common Pitfalls

  • Structure: Is your building incapable of conversion due to being structurally unsound, or does it need works above and beyond what is acceptable under the criteria of Class Q?  Addressing these issues prior to submitting a prior notification can significantly increase your chances of success.
  • Impractical or Undesirable: Is your building located near to a slurry lagoon, intensive livestock unit or machinery shed?
  • Curtilage: Does the area you wish to incorporate as a garden extend beyond the area allowed under Class Q?  Why not take a two-tiered approach?
  • Agricultural use: Have you considered how the building sits within your holding, was it solely used for an agricultural use and is it part of an established agricultural unit?  Storing a lawnmower or table and chairs, in the building, could be of detriment to your application.


Other considerations

It is also important to consider the long-term goals and plans for your farm. For example, the use of Class Q permitted development rights will prevent you from applying for a new agricultural building under permitted development for 10 years.  Also, if you have constructed a new agricultural building under permitted development rights since 20 March 2013, you will not be able to apply for class Q until at least 2023 (remember full planning permission for buildings to avoid losing Class Q rights is always an option).

Class Q can also be used as a stepping stone to achieving something which would require full planning permission.

Whilst if the building is to be sold, residential will almost always provide the highest return; if it is to be retained and let out commercial uses, such as offices, may be more lucrative.  Class R permitted development rights allow a change of use of buildings and land from agriculture to commercial. 

This, and a range of other permitted development rights, offers opportunity without the need (and cost) to prepare a full planning application.


Class Q permitted development certainly presents a great opportunity to realise income on farms and estates.  However, achieving approval is proving more difficult than initially publicised, meaning that prior notifications must be robust and well thought through, in order to avoid refusal.  Each Local Authority area must be approached in a different way due to the variation of interpretation.  Development is certainly achievable, in most cases, but the task of achieving approval is perhaps greater than you may consider.  As our experience confirms, our expert team can help you through the process and significantly enhance your chances of success.


 class q


 For further information please contact:


Cath Anthony - Partner, Rural

01223 559509


Louise Newton - Rural Surveyor

01727 223901


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