Q I have a barn to convert which is really quite small but, if I can get planning permission, will make a nice one bedroom house. I wanted to extend it slightly but the planning officer said it was against council policy and refused to accept any scheme that included an extension. I’d be happy with a one-bedroom conversion and I don’t need much extra space but it doesn’t look like the planning officer’s going to change his mind. Is there anything I can do?
A The first thing to do is to check the detail of the council planning policy and see how strict it is over extensions in conversions. If you can find anything to hang your hat on, go back to the planning officer and ask about that aspect. This seems unlikely in the circumstances.
In these cases, safety first is usually the best way to proceed. Providing the officer is supporting the principle of conversion, you’re better off securing the principle of residential use. That’s the biggest hurdle and the most valuable element of an approval. So, make your application without any extension and see that through.
Providing planning permission is granted, you can then make an application for a conversion with the small extension you want. Try to integrate and blend the extension into the existing form of the barn so it looks like a natural addition that might have been built years ago. The less visible it is – from public viewpoints especially – the better.
You never know your luck and, having conceded the principle of conversion, the council might even approve the extended scheme. If it doesn’t, appeal against the refusal. You’d have the original permission to fall back on and not much to lose by giving it a go. Consider getting professional help with that, if you don’t have a planning consultant on board already.