Barns and farm buildings

Good practices

Any application for conversion needs to be fully justified. First of all the building, or that part to be converted, should be shown to be redundant. Another factor is whether it is near or within a settlement or out in the fields where changes to a building can affect the wider landscapes.

Farm buildings in Calderdale are typically solid, simple buildings, built from local stone, with stone slate roofs. In order to retain their architectural quality it is important that, if a new use has to be found, they still continue to look like farm buildings in order to retain links between their past and the future. Conversion of farm buildings is therefore most acceptable where the new use respects the original envelope and interior volume of the building. Often it is only by being prepared to accept less conventional accommodation layouts that farm buildings can be converted without changing their character. New schemes should also aim to meet practical requirements of drainage, heating and lighting in the most sympathetic way.

Any scheme should be designed taking into account the existing building in its original form, and the position and size of existing openings should be considered when determining the accommodation to be provided within the building.

A use which respects the open internal spaces is generally preferable to one which requires the formation of many small rooms out of the larger spaces. In addition, retention of the original pattern of openings assists in retaining evidence of the building's past. The retention of the main barn doors in some form will also help to indicate the former use of the building; too often they are lost.

It is important that farm buildings are preserved in their original form on the outside without alien additions or alterations. Changes to the roof slope, eaves line and the addition of porches and conservatories are not acceptable as they would compromise the original form of the building and lead to a loss of original character.

Where the redundant barn is attached to a house, the contrast between the original residential and agricultural parts of the building should be maintained and the original form and split of the building should remain obvious.

English Heritage have published a guide to good practice:

The Conversion of Traditional Farm Buildings: a guide to good practice|External link


Rainwater goods


Walls and openings




It is generally appropriate to retain part of the building as a full height space: this will be a specific requirement when listed buildings are converted.

Stone cleaning

Is generally unacceptable, particularly where buildings are in the countryside or in a group with other uncleaned buildings. Where the building is listed, listed building consent will usually be required.



Remember, when considering a new use for an agricultural building, that each building is different, each building will have its own design solution and each case will be looked at on its merits.

Applications for residential use must show how adequate garaging can be achieved. Wherever possible existing buildings should be used.

Last Updated: 11/11/2016