Barn conversion rejected over poor living environment

In the parlance of Class Q prior approval matters, an inspector decided the conversion of part of an agricultural barn to a dwelling in Dorset was undesirable, its location impacting on occupier amenity.

Prior approval had been sought for the change of use of a section of a larger farm building adjacent to the access to a working dairy farm yard, in order to create an independent dwelling.

The main issue in the case was whether, under the requirement of paragraph Q.2(1) of the GPDO, the location and siting of the building made it impractical or undesirable for the building to change to a dwellinghouse, specifically in terms of the effect on the living conditions of future occupiers with particular regard to noise and disturbance.

Based on the close relationship between the proposed dwelling and the adjoining agricultural buildings, and the proximity of farming activities, the inspector reasoned a dwelling here would be undesirable as future occupiers could be subjected to noise and disturbance. The inspector noted the remainder of the barn could be put to use again as a milking parlour or cow shed and with no acoustic evidence that the dividing wall would prevent farm activity disturbing residential occupation of the dwelling, he adopted a precautionary approach. He also rebuffed the appellant’s claim that the dwelling would be for an agricultural worker, finding no mechanism to restrict occupancy and no reason why farm workers should have a reduced level of amenity.

Referring to paragraph W(10)(b) of Schedule 2, Part 3 of the GPDO, which requires regard to be had to the NPPF so far as relevant to prior approval, the inspector recorded that national planning policy seeks a high standard of amenity for existing and future users and the proposed change of use would be contrary to this. He concluded that the appeal should be dismissed.

Inspector: David Wyborn; Written representations

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