A Guide to Class Q Barn Conversions

A barn conversion is a stunning way to create a characterful and charming self build and they have long captured the imagination of self builders. Barn conversions offer a blend of spacious interiors and rustic charm which is a unique opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind home.

In recent years, Class Q barn conversions have gained popularity as they provide a streamlined way to transform old, agricultural buildings into stunning self build homes. This guide helps to outline what you need to know about Class Q planning as a self builder.

What is Class Q Planning?

The permitted development right known as “Class Q Planning” was introduced in England in 2014. In essence, it allows for “prior approval” to convert agricultural buildings, such as barns, into a different use class. For example, into a residential home.

If the building you are looking to convert meets all the requirements laid out in the Class Q planning regulations, it can be used in place of a full planning application which means that aspiring self builders looking to create their dream home in the countryside can enjoy a more straightforward route than building a home from scratch.

class q barn conversions

Class Q Barn Conversions: Restrictions & Criteria

When understanding if you are eligible to use Class Q for a barn conversion, it’s important to understand the restrictions that are imposed on this planning direction.

General Eligibility

In order for the building itself to be eligible under Class Q, the barn must have been in agricultural use on or before March 20, 2013. If the building was brought into agricultural use after that date, 10 years must pass before development under Class Q can begin. It should also be structurally sound, and the conversion should not result in substantial rebuilding.


The barn you are looking to convert must not be located in any areas that Class Q is not permitted, including the follow:

  • Article 2(3) land
  • Sites of special scientific interest
  • Safety hazard areas
  • Listed buildings
  • Military explosives storage area


There was an amendment to Class Q in 2018 which made a distinction between what floorspace is permitted in terms of larger and smaller dwelling houses. In this case, “larger” refers to dwelling above 100 square metres and “smaller” refers to those below 100 square metres. Here are some of the restrictions:

  • Where barns are converted to larger dwellinghouses, the cumulative floorspace cannot exceed 465 m2 and the number of separate larger dwellinghouses cannot exceed 3.
  • Where barns are converted to smaller dwellinghouse, the cumulative floorspace cannot exceed 500 m2 and the number of separate, smaller dwellinghouses cannot exceed 5.
  • Where barns are converted to a mixture of larger and smaller dwellinghouses, the floorspace limit of the larger dwellinghouse is 465 m2 and the total number of dwellinghouses permitted is 5.

Residential Use

The converted barn should be used as a single dwelling, not for multiple residential units or for any type of commercial use.

Agricultural Tenancy

Agricultural tenancy matters involve legal agreements and regulations related to the leasing or renting of agricultural land and buildings. If the site is occupied under agricultural tenancy, Class Q can only proceed with the permission of both the landlord and the tenant who is farming the land or using the building.

Permitted Works

While Class Q allows for change of use, it doesn’t permit unlimited external alterations and changes. In terms of the building operations permitted, it will only allow the installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs and walls as well as utilities and services such as water, electricity, gas and drainage.

Having said this, most barns will generally need quite a lot of work in order to bring them up to standards with build regulations, fire safety and energy ratings. Partial demolition is also permitted as well as internal conversions which can include an independent first floor mezzanine.

Structural Integrity

The barn being converted should already be structurally capable of conversion. This means it should be able to support a self build conversion use without the need for substantial rebuilding or added support.

sip self build barn

Applying for Class Q Permitted Development for Barns

If, after checking the eligibility criteria, your barn conversion project meets all the Class Q restrictions, an application will need to be submitted to determine whether the development is acceptable. This is known as a “Prior Approval Application” or a “Prior Notification Application” and they are specific to Class Q developments. You’ll need to check with your local planning authority to confirm which type of application you are required to submit.

Generally, you have two options to apply under Class Q:

  • (a) a change of use of a building and any land within its curtilage from a use as an agricultural building to a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order
  • (b) development referred to in paragraph (a) together with building operations reasonably necessary to convert the building referred to in paragraph (a) to a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of that Schedule.

Unless you are just converting the inside of the barn, then the application should be made under (b).

What’s Included in A Prior Approval Application

The basic requirements for the application include:

  • A written description of the proposed barn conversion, which must include any proposed building works
  • Site location and site floor plans showing the existing barn’s layout and how it will be converted into your residential home
  • If the barn is in a flood risk zone of 2 or 3, you’ll need a site specific flood risk assessment
  • The developer’s contact details
  • The application fee (which varies from council to council)

The council will also assess other factors as part of the process, including the local impact on traffic and highways, noise and contamination risks.

Planning a Class Q Conversion For Your Self Build

If you are planning to build your own home and are interested in self building, the team at incollective can help. We have a great wealth of experience in the self build market and have helped many different self builders achieve the home of their dreams, from custom self build projects through to Class Q barn conversions.

We specialise in self build architecture, meaning we can help you get the most out of you barn conversion to achieve the space and environment you want to create.

Reach Out to Us Today

If you are interested in a Class Q barn conversion and would like some further advice, reach out to us on 023 8244 3801 or head over to our contact page.

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