Last Updated on July 14, 2023

Whether you have purchased a piece of land which features disused agricultural buildings, or you already own a farm comprising buildings that have become redundant, it is imperative to consider ways in which these structures could be converted and utilised instead of leaving them to gather cobwebs.

For those who own a farm and are actively looking for ways to increase profits, disused structures such as empty barns are a prime opportunity. Thanks to recent alterations in Class Q Permitted Development Rights, farmers have greater scope to increase their incomes when it comes to converting agricultural buildings.

Here are a handful of ideas for converting your disused agricultural buildings for an increase in profit.

Converting barns into dwellings to sell or rent

Barn conversion

If your structure is large enough, you could convert it into one or more homes and place them on the property market. Currently, you are allowed to create up to five small dwellings, each with a maximum floor space of 100sqm, or up to three large dwellings, with a maximum combined floor space of 465sqm. Alternatively, you can use a combination of the two; in this case, up to five dwellings can be created, and no more than three of these can be large dwellings.

If you are interested in maintaining an income over a longer period of time, you could consider becoming a landlord and placing the homes on the market for rent. Hiring a property management company should make this option much easier, as they will handle all communication with tenants.


Creating dwellings for you or your workers to live in

If you have employees who are unable to find a home close to your farm due to limited availability, high house prices or otherwise, it may be more convenient, for both parties, to provide housing onsite. However, do consider that agricultural tenants have slightly different rights to private tenants; for example, you will have to offer the tenant alternative accommodation if they stop working for you and you require the home for another worker.

Converting a building for your family could also be beneficial; for example, if your children are set to take over the farm, they may wish to have their own houses onsite to live in and perhaps start their own families, which can save money in the long run.

Converting barns into an office space

Grade II listed timeber frame barn conversion
A grade II listed timber frame barn converted to offices by whitworth

Similar to converting a barn to a dwelling for rent, you could earn a regular income long term if you convert the structure into offices. If you choose to go down this route, it’s important to check demand in your local area. Find out if there are already any office spaces in your town and if they’re fully or mostly occupied – if so, there may be more local businesses searching for office spaces to rent.

With a larger outbuilding, there is plenty of scope for multiple offices, or even a large office space, depending on the kind of businesses in your area and who you are interested in targeting. However, don’t disregard smaller buildings, as it can be easy to maximise on space with some input from an architect, and these spaces can be easy to market to small business owners and freelancers.

Converting into a commercial space such as self-storage

Diversifying into self-storage is currently a popular trend for farm owners; in fact, the self-storage market has a turnover of more than £540m per year. 

If your land features good access and is preferably near a main road or town, this could make an excellent location for a self-storage business. If you’re hoping to cater to private individuals, keep an eye out for local housing developments in your area; an influx in houses means more people moving home, meaning a greater need for self-storage. For areas where businesses are thriving, commercial self-storage may be a success.

When converting an agricultural building into a self-storage facility, smaller-scale operations could potentially be executed under permitted development rights.

Converting into an events venue for barn weddings

When it comes to weddings, venues are often the largest expense. This makes a successful wedding venue a very profitable venture. However, it’s important to consider that this is a very competitive market, so if there are many other established wedding venues in your area, it may be that you consider a different route for diversification.

If you do spot a gap in the market for your location and want to consider converting your agricultural building into a wedding venue, you’ll need to look at planning permission for change of use. If the building is historic, this may be an excellent unique selling point for your venue; however, you may also need to obtain listed building consent in order to make alterations. With this kind of diversification, appearance and comfort will be two of the most important aspects to keep in mind during the conversion; an architect will be able to help you with these points and guide you through the process with ease.


If you are interested in diversifying by converting a barn on your land, please get in touch with our team of Chartered Architects and Surveyors, who would be delighted to discuss your needs. Call us on 01284 760421 or visit our Contact page.