Do you need planning permission to build a barn on agricultural land?

Do you need planning permission to build a barn on agricultural land? Agricultural land comes under different planning permission rules than land designed for domestic residence or commercial use.

Understanding planning permission for agricultural land

For agricultural land, there are permitted development rights (PDRs) which are useful procedures that make certain types of development much quicker and easier to complete.

PDRs allow you to construct, extend, or alter buildings on your agricultural land without having to go through the full planning permission process.

Different classes of PDRs

Class A

This allows development related to agricultural buildings, including machinery and crop storage, for extension, erection, or alteration as long as it pertains to agriculture.

Class O

Class O covers those who wish to change current agricultural buildings that are used as offices into houses or dwellings.

As long as the structure is not;

  • a listed building
  • is in a safety hazard zone
  • Near a military storage area
  • Near heritage or protected land
  • The office structure has been in place since before March 29th, 2013

Class Q

If you are looking to turn an agricultural building (not an office type) into a house or dwelling, you will need a Class Q PDR. Since 2018 this was amended to allow up to five dwellings ( and up to 865sq m floor space) to be converted.

The caveats to this class are that the building must have already been in agricultural use since March 20th, 2013, the new development cannot exceed the current external dimensions of the existing building, and it cannot be built in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Class R

Class R allows you to convert agricultural buildings for another purpose aside from dwellings, such as retail units, offices, or leisure centres, for example.

Restrictions include;

  • The construction cannot exceed 500sq m on any single farm
  • Applies to agricultural buildings in use since July 3rd, 2012
  • Does not apply to areas near monuments, safety hazard areas, or military storage areas

Class S

This Class S PDR allows agricultural buildings to be converted to state-funded schools or registered nurseries.

Class S can not be obtained if the site is occupied under an agricultural tenancy unless both the landlord and the tenant agree.


Many of the classes above do not apply if you are looking only to construct a barn or storage structure on your agricultural land, but they are worth knowing about regardless.

Current planning permission rules for agricultural land

At present, you can erect, extend, or alter a building on agricultural land if it meets the following criteria:

  1. The agricultural land must not be less than 5 hectares in area
  2. You cannot erect, build or alter any building classed as a dwelling
  3. The building must be solely for the purpose of agriculture
  4. It cannot be the first agricultural construction on the unit
  5. It cannot be more than 75 metres from the nearest part of a group of principal farm buildings
  6. It cannot be less than 75 metres from any neighbouring house
  7. It cannot exceed 500 square metres or 12 metres in height
  8. It cannot be more than 9 metres from the middle of a road

What if I build something without permission?

If you build on agricultural land without meeting the criteria above, you could be liable for severe penalties, including hefty fines and an order to deconstruct your buildings.

To save you time and money, you should always ensure you are meeting the proper criteria before building anything on your land.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can proceed with your plans, contact Timmins Engineering for some expert advice and guidance. We can help you avoid the pitfalls and get your new barn or agricultural building set up in no time.