Posts Tagged ‘farm buildings’

What You Need to Know About Converting Your Barn

barn conversions in northern ireland

The Northern Irish countryside is dotted with beautiful buildings from our past no longer used but ripe with opportunity and potential. Each building, be it an old church, schoolhouse or barn, has its own charm and with barn conversions becoming more popular, attainable and manageable the possibilities are there.
If you are considering undertaking a barn conversion in the near future, take time and care to consider all aspects of the project.


With that in mind, your first consideration should be the ultimate purpose of the barn conversion. The reuse and alteration of these unique old buildings can take many forms including development for economic, tourism, recreational and residential facilities. There is also scope, in accordance with PPS 21, to repurpose for community facilities but retail plans will almost always be denied.
The perfect project will pair the right property with the right purpose so if you’re converting for a new home, office or tourism business consider all aspects and the variations of each.


Modern Barn Conversion Architects
slemish design studio architects surveying one of their barn conversion projects

After deciding on the right property and purpose, a comprehensive survey of the barn is absolutely essential to identify any potential issues before conversion work begins.
Surveys can be carried out by architects like ourselves, structural engineers or building surveyors and will help for planning to conserve the character of the building, highlight any structural issues and provide clear indications concerning project costs.


For all their charm, barn conversions are serious projects, and generally more expensive than typical new builds, and one major reason for this is the likely lack of connection to normal services.
As most barns, in their original state, would have been used for non-residential or agricultural purposes they are unlikely to be connected to electrical and water mains as well as required sewage systems.
It’s essential that you plan and budget to connect the property to the required services as soon as possible.


When it comes to barn conversions the design, layout and feel of the property is the most exciting part of the project. This is where you get to breathe life back into somewhere that’s been left derelict, unused and forgotten about.
However, even though it can be an exciting time, barn conversion design can be difficult and testing and it’s absolutely crucial you work with professionals experienced in this unique style of building. Almost all planning permission will be subject to retaining and maintaining the look, character and feel of the original structure.
This can prove problematic as old barns and unused buildings can come with limited natural light available, necessary but impractical wood or iron beams and limited access to creating new levels/floors.
With all of that in mind you might be rethinking your dream project but don’t be dismayed. With hard work, careful planning and the right guidance the end result can be truly unique, worthwhile and rich in character and integrity.

Modern Barn Conversion Architects


Finally, and underpinning everything we’ve already discussed, is the cost of your proposed project.
Unfortunately, there is no rule of thumb when dealing with such wildly unique projects and only after sourcing the right property, getting a proper survey and obtaining the correct planning permission will you begin to understand the costs involved in your barn conversion project. Also, the scale of the work needed and the involved of other parties will also largely depend on your own experience and knowledge.

We hope that this has given you some guidance if or when you consider a barn conversion.
They can be some of the best and most interesting projects to be involved in and luckily, we’re experienced in numerous projects on a variety of sites.

If you have questions on a project you’d like us to come see or need guidance contact us below or via our facebook page & we’ll do what we can to help out on your project.


Attwood announces easing of planning rules for farmers

Environment Minister Alex Attwood today announced the easing of planning rules for farmers

The new rights, known as permitted development rights, will come in to operation in August 2013. They will increase the range of agricultural development that no longer needs planning permission.

Farmers will now be able to undertake new build or extend agricultural buildings including sheds for hay and straw, storage and maintenance of agricultural machinery and plant, milking parlours, slurry storage tanks and chicken and other livestock sheds without having to go through the planning application process.

This means farmers can construct buildings up to 500 square metres without the need for a planning application (the equivalent of over 5,000 square feet). Currently they can only erect up to 300 square metres without the need for a planning application.

Alex Attwood said: “These new rights, the most generous on these islands, will eliminate unnecessary red tape to enable agriculture to grow in a challenging economic climate. Extensive research has been carried out and I have listened and met with various groups and these changes are warmly welcomed. I want to help expand our agri-food business by 40% in the next few years. That is what producers tell me they hope to achieve – these changes can help the industry to do so.

“These new rights strike an essential balance, they free up farmers to make improvements with safeguards to protect neighbours and ensure that development is of an appropriate scale and character.”

The new rights will also provide for the installation of structures of up to 500 square metres to house anaerobic digestion plant on agricultural units. Put simply, anaerobic digestion is a treatment process using, for example, farm crops and animal waste to produce biogas which can be used as a fuel to power and heat the farm.

Alex Attwood continued: “Renewable energy and technology is our single biggest economic opportunity. This is why I am working hard to get planning better fit for purpose with more renewable approvals. Statistics published this week show an increase of 90% in renewable energy applications with almost nine in ten of these approved. This will help our economy and meet Executive Renewable Energy targets.

“These new rules will help farmers seize the benefits of renewable technologies such as anaerobic digesters which can help to make savings and reduce running costs in the longer term.”

The Minister concluded: “This year I have already paved the way for schools, businesses and farm buildings to install solar panels without planning permission and announced further rights to boost mobile phone and internet coverage in Northern Ireland.

“This is further proof that planning is turning corners. Over the past two years I have driven through changes and set challenging targets to speed up the planning process. Whether it is Article 31/ ministerial decisions, renewable energy decisions or new policies on tourism and heritage, reform is working. Planning is delivering benefits to the economy in an efficient and timely manner whilst protecting our environment. The DOE is leading in protecting the environment and in supporting economic recovery. These new rules further demonstrate this.”

easing planning rules for Northern Ireland farmers

information taking from the Northern Ireland Executive wesbite

Boost for solar energy in Northern Ireland

Planning relaxes for Schools & farm buildings

Environment Minister Alex Attwood today announced that schools, businesses and farm buildings will no longer need planning permission for solar panels.
The change relates to microgeneration equipment, including solar panels which generate electricity or heat from sunlight.

The improvements will come into operation on 30 April 2013 and follow on from permitted development rights previously introduced for the installation of domestic solar panels on homes.

Alex Attwood said: “This is a good boost for a cleaner, greener Northern Ireland. By removing red tape around having to make a planning application, schools, businesses and farms will be able to enjoy the benefits of solar energy much more easily. For them it will mean cheaper, greener, cleaner energy. A win for consumers and a win for the environment.

“Increasing the range of development that no longer needs planning permission will make it easier for businesses and other non-domestic properties to install renewable energy technologies. Technologies such as solar panels, heat pumps, biomass boiler housing and fuel storage containers all contribute to reducing the impact of climate change.

“It is also little appreciated that much of Northern Ireland is in a ‘solar belt,’ where the quality of light and sun makes commercial solar feasible. I want to see domestic and commercial solar grow. Renewables can be one of, if not our biggest economic opportunity.”

Trevor Dornan from East Belfast Mission’s Skainos Square said: “Skainos had solar panels installed at the design stage of the build and we are really reaping the benefits. Solar energy makes sense for the environment and for our business – we have reduced electricity/heating bills and harnessing the sun’s energy fits with our organisation’s overall green aims to reduce, reuse and recycle. I encourage other organisations to install solar panels and I believe that removing the need for planning permission will make the process easier, quicker and more economical.”

The Minister concluded: “The extension of these permitted development rights will complement my ongoing planning reforms and help promote a speedier and more cost effective and responsive service to everyone.”

Boost for solar energy in Northern Ireland Boost for solar energy in Northern Ireland

text taken from planning NI wesbite