Agricultural to Residential Conversion in West Berkshire

Local Authority

West Berkshire


Appeals, Applications, Permitted Development and Prior Approval
  • Agriculture and Rural
  • Residential
Decoration Decoration

Turning a difficult situation into a positive result - permission granted for the conversion of agricultural barn to a residential dwelling in West Berkshire

Client Private
Architect Re-Format
Author Karen Tipper
Senior Associate

Project Overview

There were many challenges to overcome during the application process however, planning permission has been granted for the conversion of a modern agricultural barn to a residential dwelling in Beech Hill, West Berkshire.

Following the Council’s advice, the initial prior approval application was withdrawn as the site was within outer consultation zone, which the Council deemed a safety hazard.

That did not stop us. Research began into the differences between “consultation zones” and “safety hazard areas” as defined by either the HSE or Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). Discussions were held with the Civil Contingencies Manager at the Council who in turn took up this issue with the ONR and the Local Planning Authority (LPA).

At the same time, it was decided to pursue a change of use application as the only way forward. This was validated but then refused on the basis of the site being within the countryside and not in a sustainable location. A written representations appeal was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

Later it was confirmed by the Civil Contingencies Manager and the ONR that the site was “outside of the existing detailed emergency planning zones around AWE Aldermaston and AWE Burghfield respectively.” Therefore, the site is not in a safety hazard area.

Accordingly, the prior approval application was resubmitted and based on this new information, was successfully approved by West Berkshire Council.

At the appeal, the Inspector gave significant weight to the prior approval granted by the LPA and decided that the main factor that needed to be considered was the larger curtilage. The Inspector concluded that the site was well screened and that the proposal would improve the appearance of the site.

This project demonstrates the long and complex route that is required for some planning applications. However, it highlights that with persistence and good dialogue with the LPA you can turn a difficult situation into a positive one which ultimately ends up with a successful planning approval.

There are many caveats with this type of application and we would recommend discussing your project with one of our experienced planners. We have extensive experience in preparing supporting statements which address the prior approval criteria and can coordinate any required reports from other consultants.


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