The policy regarding planning under Class Q (Permitted Development Rights for Conversion of Agricultural Buildings to Residential Use) was updated earlier this year.  Under Class Q applicants with agricultural buildings can now apply for the following:

  • Conversion to up to 3 larger homes, to be greater than 100 square metres and within an overall floor space of 465 square metres; or
  • Conversion to up to 5 smaller homes each no greater than 100 square metres; or
  • Conversion to up to 5 homes comprising a mixture of larger and smaller homes, with neither exceeding the thresholds for each type of home.


The Guidance provides clarification that Class Q may be gained for either change of use (Class Qa), or change of use together with reasonably necessary building operations (Class Qb).

It is not the intention of the permitted development right to allow rebuilding work which would go beyond what is reasonably necessary for the conversion of the building to residential use. Therefore it is only where the existing building is already suitable for conversion to residential use that the building would be considered to have the permitted development right.

The Guidance no longer refers to the building being structurally sound but rather that the building is already “suitable for conversion to residential use”.  This raises an interesting question as to what works could be carried out to a building before an application is submitted which would make a building “suitable” without planning permission being required. It may also lead to individual Councils having their own system to determine what is “suitable”.

Internal works are not generally development. For the building to function as a dwelling it may be appropriate to undertake internal structural works, including to allow for a floor, the insertion of a mezzanine or upper floors within the overall residential floor space permitted, or internal walls, which are not prohibited by Class Q.

The Guidance has also clarified that internal works are not considered generally as development and that the addition of a second floor would be acceptable under Class Q providing this does not exceed the overall floor space limits.