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Changes in planning laws make barn conversions easier

14:09 14 May 2014

The Barley House exterior

The Barley House exterior

Archant

Barn conversions will be easier now thanks to a change in planning laws, reports Cheryl Markosky

Dunbar MillDunbar Mill

One barn every minute

New government rules will make it easier to convert barns. From April 6, updated regulations suggest making “better use of redundant or underused agricultural buildings”. Farm-owners can convert up to 450 sq metres of farm buildings for residential use for no more than three homes without seeking planning permission.

This legislation won’t apply to national parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or conservation areas - owners can convert barns in these places, but have to get planning permission. They also need approval for their designs from local authorities.

Robin Gould from Prime Purchase believes that “for the average asset-rich, cash-poor farmer these changes will be manna from heaven.” However, how you establish whether a building’s ‘redundant’ is another matter.

The Barley House living roomThe Barley House living room

Many farms and estates have opted to convert outbuildings into rural business units, he observes. “While they can be expensive to alter, the farmer retains the asset, providing additional income. Another option is creating cottages for holiday lets.”

Agricultural buildings not normally perceived as significant will come to the fore, says Fin Hughes from Smiths Gore’s Andover office. “That tin shed you thought of pulling down to get £50 from the scrap-man could now be worth £250,000 as a building plot.”

John Corrie at Henry Adams LLP notes the common complaint of high costs to convert a barn into a dream home. “Have a generous contingency budget Given that barns were originally built with few, if any, foundations, you could find savings eaten up early on.” Gould agrees that old timber-framed barns can hold nasty, hidden surprises - so barn-buyer beware.

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Barnstorming tips

• Allow oak to blend into the landscape, but don’t overdo the wood.

• Be creative with interiors, making the most of light from big, central windows.

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Barn sale

The Barley House £1.6 million

Well-proportioned, five-bedroom barn conversion with sunken trampoline and bespoke Wendy House (‘Barley Cottage’) in the Bunny Guinness-designed garden. Jackson-Stops & Staff Winchester 01962 844299

The Long Barn £1.4 million

Grade-II listed barn conversion in the Wallops with indoor pool and 2.5 acres. Savills Winchester 01962 841842

Myrtle Farm, Blendworth from £649,950

Due for completion next month (JUNE), the converted Threshing Barn (£649,950) has four bedrooms; while the Malt House (£774,950) has six. Henry Adams 01730 262801

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Wish you were here? - Dunbar Mill, Nevis, West Indies (picture above)

History buffs need look no further than Dunbar Mill, a meticulous restoration of a chunky 17th century stone mill with solar-heated pool and guest cottage on the cosy isle of Nevis. £1.507 million. Sugar Mill Real Estate 001 869 469 1093 www.nevishouses.com

Suzanne Gordon, owner of Sugar Mill Real Estate, says: “This is the quintessential Nevis property - a windmill with all its very colorful history. The British owners took an historic, Colonial relic and turned it into a fantastic house, with sugar factory ruins and even its own privy – it’s truly a labour of love! The best thing about this property is it’s breezy spot (hence, windmill), so occupants can enjoy the perennial soft Caribbean trade-winds year-round. From its hillside perch, you can see all the land and crisp blue seas below. What’s not to love!”

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