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What is “Clarkson’s Clause”? Key Changes to Developing Agricultural Buildings in 2024


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What is “Clarkson’s Clause”? Key Changes to Developing Agricultural Buildings in 2024

Whether you are a fan or not, there is currently a lot of heat and media content around Jeremy Clarkson in the planning, architecture, and development world.

What is being branded as ‘Clarkson’s Clause’ brings along changes in legislation associated to permitted development rights around the conversion of Agricultural Buildings into either Residential property/properties, or Commercial use and ventures.

To cut through the media spin and clickbait, these policies have been in place for a number of years in the form of Class Q for Residential conversion, and Class R for Commercial conversion.

In the recent update, there are a number of key changes that have been incorporated. Partnered with a looming General Election, I imagine there will be plenty more coming our way in ‘draft’ shortly. However, whilst Clarkson’s Farm continues to be a top performer on our TV’s and the UK is made up of 90% rural areas, this is a key change for opportunity in the development and agricultural world

Here is a small article to help understand what those updates are;


The purposes of the recent changes are intended to create diversity and rural economic benefits that the current permitted development allowances do not facilitate. 

There is a feeling that it removes a large amount of red tape and provides flexibility to ensure the intended works achieve what they set out to do, and do not constrain opportunity through what appears to be logical opportunity.

In the words of Mark Spenser, farming minister, it would cut “needless bureaucracy”. Our experience of delivering these projects, in large number, is that Local Authorities all take a different view and stance on the legislation subject to their heritage and conservation values/policy. So, it will be interesting to understanding if some of these more challenging county authorities will embrace this change.

Adopted Changes

There are a number of key changes within this policy, but the key areas are as follows;

  1. Use

Previously, if the barn had been partly used for domestic related purposes such as storage, this would have caused complications and potential failing in compliance for the use of Class Q as it would not have been deemed an agricultural use.

Under the new policy, this restriction is relaxed and will allow for much wider opportunity on/in existing farmsteads.

  1. Extensions.

It’s a fact, barns were designed for storage or livestock husbandry. Therefore, the form of these older buildings cause restrictions for domestic or commercial use, and sometimes an extension would be exceptionally beneficial for its updated use.

Previously a big ‘no no’, extensions are now deemed agreeable if ‘modest’ in scale.

  1. Land

Land can also now be considered under the permitted allowances, which previously would have required a formal application.

Via Class R (Commercial) can now be converted into training centres and outdoor sporting based facilities.

  1. Scale and Density

The changes and updates allow double the limit on Residential homes via conversion from 5 to now 10, but it does however limit your permitted floor area per residential property to a lesser m2 allowance.

Similarly, for commercial use the proposed area cap has increased from 500m2 to now 1,000m2 whilst also incorporating additional uses, now permitting provision for facilities such are General Industrial, Sport / Recreation, Storage & Distribution, Hotels and Business.


Care needs to be given, and professional advice should be sought if you are considering a development that falls within these parameters. There are a number of outlets that elude this, conversion projects do not require ‘council approval’.

This is simply not the case.

Whilst a formal planning application is not required (more frequently referred to as a Detailed Application), there is a need to submit ‘Prior Approval’.

Prior approval is a formal submission to your local planning authority, and the purpose of it is to seek confirmation that specified parts of a development are acceptable before work can commence. Providing clarity and confidence for both parties and avoiding endless enforcement queries from disgruntled neighbours.

There are different types of prior approval, which require various levels of detail before a Council will assess a proposal.  Depending on what you are seeking prior approval for, you could be required to submit information on a wide variety of aspects of the proposal, including:

  • Design and external appearance;
  • The transport impacts of the development;
  • Flooding information.


These updates in legislation do without doubt provide opportunity, however they also impose restrictions in other areas which will without doubt effect a project viability if being considered for return on investment purposes.

Therefore, it is always sensible to engage with a professional prior to committing to a project and establishing what your options are and routes for consideration as a project strategy. If BASE can be of assistance, we have extensive experience in these applications, alongside development within the rural environment, and would be delighted to assist you.

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