Time window warning for converting farm buildings to commercial use

Some current legislation governing the converting of agricultural buildings to other commercial uses could potentially end in spring 2016, placing a crucial time pressure on farmers who are considering a development.

According to the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (AMC) time may already be tight for some projects, given the planning and preparation requirements which may be involved.

Delivering an “act now” message to farmers and landowners, AMC’s Mike Lord said current conversion opportunities may not be around for ever.

“While changes allowing the conversion of farm buildings to dwellings, announced in March this year, are open-ended, earlier legislation is not,” he said. “This particularly concerns the conversion of agricultural buildings to other commercial uses such as office space, which was only given a three-year timeframe when it was introduced and could potentially end in spring 2016.

“Whilst this seems a long time away, in reality it is not long in the context of moving from an idea for improving the farm to turning the key on a finished project.”

Mr Lord added that developing existing or redundant buildings to create diversified income streams could help strengthen some agricultural businesses for the long term.

“Many AMC customers have taken advantage of historically low interest rates as a means of cost effectively converting redundant buildings into very successful B&Bs, farm shops, commercial buildings or light industrial units,” he said. “And the current regulations offer further opportunity for more farmers to do the same.”

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