Proposals to make barn conversions easier will damage National Parks

Field barns in the Yorkshire DalesGovernment proposals to make it easier to convert redundant agricultural buildings into homes could lead to the development of huge numbers of isolated dwellings in unsustainable locations and would not result in new homes for those who need them most. In addition, the changes would harm the special qualities of National Parks and undermine National Park Authorities’ (NPAs) policies to encourage affordable housing and support existing services in village centres. These are just some of the concerns that we have set out in our letter objecting to the proposals.

Any new dwelling will result in other physical changes such as power lines, driveways, and gardens and generate more traffic, as a result of postal and other deliveries as well as the journeys made by the occupants and their visitors. The proposed changes also risk allowing buildings which have a detrimental impact on the landscape to continue in use for much longer than would otherwise be the case if they are no longer required for agricultural purposes. Although there are many traditional agricultural buildings in National Parks, there are also many larger modern buildings which are of much poorer quality appearance than would be required for new residential development in such sensitive landscapes.

NPAs already have policies in place to allow conversion of agricultural buildings for residential use where the location, scale and character are appropriate. If the requirement for planning permission is removed then NPAs will lose their ability to manage and monitor the potential impacts of changes of use including the cumulative impacts within an area. National Parks contain a high number of the buildings which could potentially be affected by this proposal, for example, there are around 4500 field barns in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, many of which are in locations which would be completely inappropriate for residential use. We do not believe that the changes should be introduced at all but if they are then they should not apply in National Parks.

You can read our full response to the consultation here.