Clarkson’s Clause: A New Era for Rural Development

BlogChange of Use

Understanding Clarkson’s Clause

Change of use refers to the process of altering the designated purpose of a building or land, allowing it to be used for a different purpose than originally intended. In the UK, Change of Use projects are governed by planning regulations that outline specific use classes and associated permissions. For further details, please visit our Change of Use page and refer to our article titled “Navigating Change of Use Projects in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide” which offers comprehensive guidance.

The recent revisions in planning regulations, often referred to as Clarkson’s Clause or Clarkson’s Law, mark a substantial transformation in rural development dynamics. These adjustments grant farmers the authority to convert abandoned agricultural structures into residential dwellings, retail spaces, and various commercial ventures without the requirement of obtaining supplementary planning consent.

The primary goal of these changes is to stimulate rural economic growth by providing farmers with greater flexibility to diversify their business operations.

Key Changes Under Clarkson’s Law

Commercial Use Conversions

One of the most notable changes is the extension of permitted development rights. Farmers can now convert up to 1,000 square metres of agricultural space to flexible commercial use, doubling the previous limit of 500 square metres. This expansion opens up opportunities for various commercial ventures, including farm shops, restaurants, and even hotels. If you would like to get more information about Permitted Development Rights for other types of properties/sites, you can review our relevant page.

Residential Conversions

The recent regulatory revisions significantly simplify the process of transforming agricultural structures into residential dwellings. Under these updated regulations, the allowable number of homes derived from such conversions has been expanded, rising from a previous limit of five to a more generous ten. Moreover, each individual residence is now subject to a maximum floor area restriction of 150 square metres. Consequently, this adjustment permits a cumulative total of up to 1,000 square metres of residential floor space within the converted agricultural buildings.

Land Use Changes

Previously, parcels of land necessitated formal applications for conversion, but now, under the updated regulations, such conversions can be undertaken under permitted development rights. This encompasses the transformation of land into multifaceted establishments such as training centres and outdoor sports facilities. This broadening of scope significantly augments the potential for diversified rural business activities and fosters a more dynamic rural economic landscape.


Under Clarkson’s Clause, there’s now permission for modest extensions on existing agricultural buildings, which was previously restricted. This adjustment acknowledges the practical limitations of older structures, granting flexibility for essential modifications to meet modern commercial or residential needs effectively.

Practical Considerations and Professional Advice

Clarkson Clause marks a significant step toward empowering rural communities and fostering economic growth. By easing planning restrictions, it offers farmers the flexibility to innovate and adapt their businesses to changing market demands. However, while the new laws significantly reduce bureaucratic hurdles, they do not eliminate the need for all forms of approval. Farmers must still submit a prior approval application to their local planning authority to address specific aspects of their development, such as design, transport impacts, and flood risk. Navigating these new opportunities requires careful planning and professional guidance to ensure compliance and maximise the benefits of these legislative changes.

Homz is committed to facilitating the realisation of these opportunities, offering specialised planning and architectural consultancy services meticulously crafted for rural development projects. With the advent of Clarkson’s Clause, our team remains cognizant of the shifting dynamics and is poised to navigate this unfamiliar terrain alongside you.

Our assistance extends beyond mere compliance with regulatory frameworks, encompassing comprehensive guidance to optimise the outcomes of your rural development endeavours. Let Homz be your trusted ally in seizing the prospects afforded by Clarkson’s Clause.

Contact us today to commence this collaborative journey and unleash the true potential of your rural development aspirations.

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