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Diversification via Development Seminar

Diversification via Development Seminar - Sheldon Bosley Knight

Diversification via Development Seminar - Sheldon Bosley Knight Sheldon Bosley Knight were delighted to sponsor the recent Diversification via Development Seminar hosted by Warwickshire Rural Hub on Tuesday 30th April.

The  Seminar provided an opportunity for farmers and landowners to learn more about the options available to them for converting farm buildings to residential use. Daniel Jackson, Director of Sheldon Bosley Knight and an Associate of the Royal Town Planning Institute, was joined by two other local experts who between them covered the planning, finance and tax implications of rural diversification.

Daniel explained the Class Q Permitted Development rights that were introduced in 2014 and which apply to buildings that were in agricultural use on 20th March 2013.

Diversification via Development Seminar - Sheldon Bosley Knight He gave some examples of Class Q applications and discussed the common pitfalls to be aware of including the maximum floor space that can be developed, the number of dwellings allowed and the deadline for completion of the building.

Daniel and his planning team have worked on a number of successful Class Q applications and he emphasised the importance of seeking professional advice for anybody considering Class Q development given the strict criteria that applies.

The audience also heard from Daniel O’Donnell from Rosconn Strategic Land who discussed the role of Promotion Agreements and their value to the landowner, and Mark Dickin of Ellacotts explained the all important tax implications.

The seminar was very well attended with over 85 guests who enjoyed networking over hot bacon baps and the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers.

For further information and to discuss your own rural diversification plans, please get in touch with Daniel on


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A peek inside the UK Horticultural Industry

commercial plant growers

commercial crop growers - horticultural surveyor - Sheldon Bosley KnightAs you are hopefully now aware, Timothy Lea & Griffiths Estate Agents Ltd., have merged with Sheldon Bosley Knight. During the negotiations, I was asked “What do you do?”. I gave the usual blurb about being a RICS accredited valuer, specialising in commercial and residential property, and then threw away the comment, “And I also act as a Horticultural Surveyor!” Blank looks across the table, and then I was asked to explain what I do.

Well, where do you start? You could say the industry covers 174,120 hectares of land, produces in excess of £3.101 billion a year, of which £1.277 billion was generated by vegetable production, but that wouldn’t really get me anywhere. So as ever in my life, let’s start with the basics, a definition.

Horticulture: – The art of garden cultivation. It covers field scale vegetable production, protected cropping, whether it be glasshouses, or tunnels for crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. It also covers ornamental cropping, such as annual bedding, hardy ornamental plant production, trees and forestry. It also incorporates top and soft fruit production, garden centres and plant centres, formal parks, sports grounds, including golf courses. In fact, Horticulture covers virtually every facet of life where plants exist.

commercial greenhouse - horticultural surveyor - Sheldon Bosley KnightWhatever it is, it all has one thing in common, it happens on land, in buildings, or glasshouses. It is a very diverse industry, that can look extremely complicated if one looks in from the outside with limited knowledge. It is also a very dynamic industry which is changing rapidly to stay in business where energy costs are rocketing in price, and labour is becoming increasingly scarce. They also have very demanding clients, such as supermarkets, where “just in time” is considered a way of life.

Modern greenhouses are virtually cathedrals specialising in the worship of plants.  Golf courses are well known for their greens, using varieties of grass specifically bred by the Grassland Institute at Hurley. Garden Centres are also becoming increasingly sophisticated emporiums of retail outlets, almost replicating the old department stores. Once you look inside this industry, you will be staggered at the diversity you will find. But a word of warning, it is a marmite industry, you will either love it or hate it.

commercial plant growersAs a surveyor, over the years, I have dealt with virtually every type of production there is to deal with, except for a cave! You will then ask, what is a cave used for?  The answer is easy; mushroom production. I have however dealt with mushroom farms, using tunnels, but then these are artificial caves, high humidity environments with little light.

The skills of a commercial surveyor are all utilised within the industry; valuation for secured lending purposes, landlord and tenant matters for garden centres and glasshouse nurseries. I also prepare schedules of condition and can give condition reports on what a nursery looks like, and how this affects its ability to produce plants and look after people while they visit or work within the property. I tend to go all over the country, as the industry is based nationwide, and every site I visit is different. There is always more than one way to skin a cat, to quote an old saying.

commercial growers - horticultural surveyor - Sheldon Bosley KnightThere are also loads of development opportunities available within Horticulture. Redundant farm buildings, opportunities for permitted development rights, or even a complete change of use to convert the nursery to a residential housing development. That can lead to substantial capital gains being made. Luckily, we have a large planning department within the firm that are good at optimising these possibilities.

I suspect you will hear a lot more about Horticulture over the coming months as Brexit unfolds. Only one politician has mentioned the words “food security”, but given that the UK import between 60% and 70% of all food we eat, I think the politicians will suddenly wake up to the fact that they have to keep the UK borders open, and working efficiently to ensure the nation is fed. Suddenly “just in time” takes on a completely different significance.

If you are running a land-based business, and require the services of a surveyor, please feel free to call our office, and discuss your requirements, whether it be agency, valuation, Landlord and Tenant matters, or management. I will do my best to help. As a company we exhibit at the Four Oaks trade show, and we regularly advertise in the trade press. Our telephone number is 01386 765700, and my email address is

Tony Rowland SBK TLG


Tony Rowland BSc(Hons) MSc MRICS

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From Hovel to Home

Barn Conversion - original farm building

Barn Conversion - original farm buildingThe SBK Planning Team were successful in gaining planning permission under Class Q of the Permitted Development Order for the conversion of a small agricultural building on the Walton Estate to a dwelling.

This project required our comprehensive support including initial planning advice and consultation, drawing up of the designs, preparation of the application and submission of the plans to Stratford District Council for approval – our full service!

Do you have a similar building that you are considering for conversion and would like some advice?

If so, please give the team a call on 01789 292310.Barn Conversion Plans



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Planning Case Study – Conversion of Agricultural Buildings to Residential

Planning Permission - Permitted Development

Our client requested our assistance in obtaining planning permission for the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential under Permitted Development (Class Q).

Two of the buildings are traditional brick barns with pitched tiled roofs and the third is a steel portal framed building with brick walls and a corrugated roof.


bockendon-grange-farm-permitted-development-planning-permissionThe conversion of a barn (barn A) into a dwelling was first refused in 2004 and at appeal in 2005. Since then the General Permitted Development Order has come into effect with the purpose of bringing redundant buildings back into use.

When the Government revised the GPDO to include the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential use, it presented an opportunity to convert these barns using a specific National Policy.

Demolition Consent was approved in 2013 to remove the agricultural buildings in close proximity to the barns.

The GPDOs for the three barns were originally refused prior approval under the GPDO in 2014 because the buildings are located in an isolated location. However, the Planning Practice Guidance Paragraph 105 states that isolation can no longer be used as a reason to
refuse an application.

Class Q (a) was subsequently approved in December 2015.


  • The agricultural buildings were in an isolated location and therefore contrary to paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework.
  • Agricultural buildings used for farming enterprise located in close proximity to the proposed buildings for conversion.

Having submitted the GPDO for the conversion of the barns, Burton Green Parish Council made no objection.

The Case Officer made a couple of requests regarding changes to window materials and design which were then amended in the plans.

The applications were approved without further question, thereby granting approval for the conversion of three buildings that had been refused just two years prior.

The Planning Specialist was Natasha Blackmore da Silva MSc.

Click here to view or download the case study.

For more information about our planning and architectural design services please contact Sam Russell at 

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Planning and Development – new measures and changes

housing development

planning surveyCommunities secretary Eric Pickles has outlined a series of planning measures in a written ministerial statement, including further permitted development changes.

The full statement runs to some length but here is an extract from the ‘At a Glance Guide’ provided by Planning Resource.

Permitted development:  Mr Pickles has outlined a series of changes to permitted development rights, including new rules allowing the conversion of premises used for storage or distribution to homes without a planning application, which are contained a new General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) laid before Parliament.

Office-to-residential: The government will “further consider the case for extending the office to residential reforms, which are helping provided more new homes on brownfield land”.

solar panels on farm landSolar:
The written statement sets a high bar for solar farms on farmland, citing “continuing concerns … about the unjustified use of high quality agricultural land“. It adds: “In light of these concerns we want it to be clear that any proposal for a solar farm involving the best and most versatile agricultural land would need to be justified by the most compelling evidence.” A new permitted development right allowing larger capacity solar panels on non-domestic buildings has also been announced.

Unauthorised development:
The government “will be seeking to introduce a new evidence-based planning and recovery policy for the green belt early in the next Parliament to strengthen protection against unauthorised development“.  Further,  the government is publishing an updated guide for councils and police on unauthorised encampments and the powers that public bodies have.

Parking: The government is amending national planning policy to further support the provision of car parking spaces. It says that the following text now needs to be read alongside the National Planning Policy Framework: “Local planning authorities should only impose local parking standards for residential and non-residential development where there is clear and compelling justification that it is necessary to manage their local road network.

A newly consolidated Development Management Procedure Order: A new DMPO comes into force on 15 April, enforcing new measures including changes to the process of statutory consultation and the introduction of a new “deemed discharge” of conditions.

Section 106: The government has published its response to a consultation on speeding up section 106 agreements and the written statement says that revised guidance will be published alongside this.

Vacant Building Credit: Guidance will be published “to assist in the delivery” of the vacant building credit.

Zero carbon homes: The  government has decided that small housing sites of 10 units or fewer will be exempted from the zero carbon homes standard.

Housing standards: The written ministerial statement sets out the government’s new national planning policy on the setting of technical standards for new dwellings. It says that the statement “should be taken into account in applying the National Planning Policy Framework, and in particular the policies on local standards or requirements at paragraphs 95, 174, and 177, in both plan making and decision-taking”.


The full ministerial statement can be viewed here.


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Hovel to House

Hovel to House

Following the new release of the additional General Permitted Development Order which came into force on the 6th April 2014, it is now possible to convert an agricultural building to a dwelling and also a shop to a dwelling. This is a big step forward from having to test the market for 6 months to see if there is any other need for the barn other than dwelling prior to putting in a full application to the District Council who would then take a larger criteria to make a decision on giving a consent for a conversion to a dwelling. With the new Development Order in place, you are now required to fill in a General Permitted Development Order and to provide a location plan so the District Council can make their decision.

 Converted property


There are of course restrictions that would prevent a notification being approved. These restrictions include that the building must have been in agricultural use or part of an established agricultural unit prior to the 20th March 2013, if the development would result in an external dimension of the building extending beyond the original dimensions of the building. If the site is an Article 1(5) land, which includes designated areas such as an area of outstanding natural beauty, conservation area, Listed or within the grounds of a Listed Building, on a site of special scientific interest, a safety hazard area, a military explosive storage area or site that contains a scheduled monument.

How big and how many barns can I convert?

The restrictions on numbers and sizes have also been put in place. You may only convert a barn that would result in no more than 450 sq m of floor space within the agricultural unit as a whole. The maximum number on one unit would be three dwellings, the accumulative floor area of these three dwellings, again must not exceed 450 sq m of floor area.

What rights might I lose?

Once a Consent has been granted for a conversion of an agricultural building to a dwelling under the new GPDO, you will not be able to apply for new agricultural buildings via the Agricultural Notification for a period of 10 years. Any application that is submitted within that 10 year period must be for a Full Planning Application.

What might I be expected to provide with my General Permitted Development Order

The District Council will take into consideration five specific areas whilst making their decision and may ask for additional information on these whilst the application is being processed. These being:

  • Transport and highway impact of the development.
  • Noise impact of the development.
  • Contamination risk on site.
  • Flood risk on site.
  • Whether the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to a use falling within the Class C3 Dwelling House of the Schedule to the Use Class Order.

Will the District Council require any further information once the General Permitted Development Order has been approved?

The District Council will condition any approval with specific details that would be required prior to work commencing on site and these will require discharge and will be known as Pre-commencement Conditions. These conditions could require further highways details, floor plans and elevations of the dwellings, Ecology Surveys, Tree Surveys to name but a few.

However, once a Permitted Development Order has been granted, these will only be hurdles that will require jumping prior to commencing on site, rather than hurdles that require jumping prior to the District Council making a decision.


From our understanding and the understanding of other governing bodies, it would appear that the Permitted Development Order is not restricted to traditional agricultural buildings but would include any agricultural building. Therefore, your Dutch barns and grain stores would be included in the permitted development.

For further enquiries or indeed assessments, please contact Sheldon Bosley for sound reliable guidance on your potential development.