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Barn development Reinstatement of dwelling and conversion of attached barn at Muker

Developing Barns

As part of its new Local Plan, the Authority has made a number of significant changes to planning policy in the National Park.

This page highlights some of the most important policy changes in relation to traditional barns – and the associated opportunities for development to support the local economy and communities.

We would welcome applications now that are in accordance with these new policies.

What’s changed?

The new policies provide more flexibility to adapt traditional farm buildings or convert them to a different use.

The most significant change is that some ‘roadside’ barns (as well as barns located in settlements or within farmsteads) can now be converted into:

  • housing for local people;
  • short-stay visitor accommodation; or,
  • employment uses (such as a café, brewery, office, craft or manufacturing workshop, nursery, art studio, gym or other sport uses).

Which barns can be converted?

The options for development of a barn will largely depend on two factors:

  • its accessibility (for vehicles, infrastructure, services); and
  • the visual impact on the building and surrounding landscape.

In terms of accessibility, the barn must be ‘roadside’.  There is a degree of flexibility here but essentially that means that the site must already be accessible by a standard road vehicle without the need to create new tracks. 

In order to minimise the visual impact of development, the barn must:

  • be structurally sound;
  • be large enough to accommodate the proposed use without the need for an extension;
  • have enough openings to let in natural light;
  • be located on a site with capacity to create a curtilage (boundary to the property) without significant visual impact.

One way of minimising the impacts of converting barns is to use a ‘pod’. A pod is a pre-fabricated structure that can be assembled and inserted inside a barn to make it a more usable space. It can be put to a range of uses, but minimises the amount of change to the building’s appearance and its original fabric. The pod idea has been trialled in the National Park through a prototype but has yet to be properly tested, so there remains a lot of scope to develop and refine the idea. An introduction to the pod idea and some of the issues to consider can be found in the Fieldbarn Design Guide.

Download the Fieldbarn Design Guide (pdf)

Barns that are not suitable for ‘high-intensity’ uses may still be capable of being used more profitably either by:

  • conversion to a ‘low-intensity’ use (such as camping barn, stables, secure storage, school resource or outdoor pursuits base, kennels, ‘retreat’, filming location, wood or biomass boiler store); or,
  • adapting the building to fulfil a more useful agricultural function.

The Authority has produced a Toolkit that provides more detailed advice to help you decide what sort of uses may be appropriate for any particular barn or group of buildings.

How can I find out more?

If you have a barn that you are proposing to develop, you can get comprehensive, expert advice by using the Authority’s pre-application advice service.

Repairing and restoring traditional field barns in the National Park is also one of the objectives agreed by the Authority and a wide range of local partner organisations in the National Park Management Plan 2019-24.