§ Baroness Elliot of Harwood
asked Her Majesty's Government:
In what circumstances it is appropriate to give planning permission for a change of use of redundant agricultural buildings in green belts.
§ The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Elton)
The Government's policy on the development in green belts is set out in my department's circular 14/84, Annex A, which says383WAInside a Green Belt, approval should not be given, except in very special circumstances, for the construction of new buildings or for the change of use of existing buildings for purposes other than agriculture, sport, cemeteries, institutions standing in extensive grounds, or other uses appropriate to a rural area".
Where planning permission is sought for new uses of redundant agricultural buildings, it is for the local planning authority to consider the application by reference to this policy and any other material considerations. But it would be appropriate to take into account, where material, the need to diversify the rural economy by encouraging new types of employment and enterprise. Redundant agricultural buildings can provide very suitable accommodation for small firms or tourist activities, or can be used for 384WA individual residences, without detriment to the green belt and to the benefit of the local community, especially where the buildings are of attractive appearance and can be expected with normal repair and maintenance to last for many years.
In deciding planning applications for new uses of redundant agricultural buildings in green belts, my right honourable friend would expect local authorities to have regard to these considerations, as he, and his inspectors, will do in deciding appeals.