Barn Conversion Planning, West Kent

Currently in progress – last updated February 2024

Client Brief

The client had bought the site with planning consent to convert a large concrete portal framed barn previously used as a cold store. We were recommended to the client and coincidentally were also undertaking a project just up the road from the site. A brick outbuilding which did not have planning consent had also been included within the sale and the client hoped to use it for extra accommodation.

The client’s original requirements were to:

  • Convert the main barn into a 5-bedroom family home
  • Create a double height vaulted ceiling
  • Turn the outbuilding into a cottage

Planning Ideas

An additional property
The client had been told by another company they were unlikely to obtain permission to turn the brick outbuilding into an independent dwelling. Having gained planning consent for many barns in the area we knew that a positive planning outcome was certainly possible and advised an application for full planning consent. This would also significantly increase the value of the building and the site overall. The outcome was a successful planning application and detached cottage for the client’s mother, who has emigrated from Canada.

Space and privacy
The original planning application had been submitted by the previous owners with the intention of selling the site with planning consent. It had not, therefore, been designed with much thought for particular living requirements – it was just to gain the planning consent.

We revised the layouts to reflect the client’s desired room sizes and function, although kept the basic principles of the design. We also applied separately to reroute the existing driveway to give both barns more privacy.

Client convenience
We also helped the client gain permission for a log cabin on site which they constructed specifically to live in during the project and planned to sell once the build was complete.

Sympathetic design
We kept the design of both barns simple while using materials appropriate to the building and local area, which is always appealing to planners. We used fibre cement roof sheeting which gives the portal framed barn a classic agricultural appearance and is very cost effective. We also obtained consent for the use of UPVC windows for the brick barn by demonstrating that we were using a high-quality product with traditional detailing.

The ‘wow’ factor
The client was keen on adding a vaulted ceiling but struggled to visualise it. We provided some computer generated rendered perspectives and a 3D video walkthrough to enable our clients to better understand what the resulting space would look like. There are other special features planned such as contemporary finishes on the roof, walls and windows, and an overall modern look to the home that blends with its surroundings.


The large barn was attached to a neighbouring outbuilding. As part of the planning amendment, we were able to demolish a metre wide section of the attached end and add a metre onto the building at the other end thereby detaching the two buildings. This gained value for the client and made the barn easier to convert.

What the client said…

“Vernacular Homes just had such good relationships with the local planning authority. They had great experience and understanding of all the covenants involved, and the minutiae of dealing with the local authority.

“They also advised us to get consent for the temporary mobile home we’ve built to live in during the build. We didn’t know we’d need permission, but Trevor said it would be advisable, just to be ‘squeaky clean’ and stay on the right side of the planners. We’ve got a lovely four-bedroom, two-bathroom log cabin which is great for us, our three children and dog, and we can sell it once the barns are finished. Having the planning permission just gives us that peace of mind.

“Overall, I’m just so pleased we’re working with Vernacular Homes. They’re on time, on budget, give incredible advice and are just lovely people to work with. I’d recommend them to anyone.”

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