Naomi Quick, team leader at Bruton Knowles’ Guildford office, said people looking to convert an old barn into their dream home were coming up against rigidly enforced planning guidelines.

“More than half the planning applications to convert agricultural buildings into homes were refused last year, and structural integrity seems to be a key factor in this.

“Although it is two years’ since the government extended Permitted Development Rights to agricultural buildings we haven’t seen an enormous take up.

“The principal sticking point appears to be paragraph 105 of the Planning Practice Guidance which says existing buildings can only benefit from PDR if it is structurally strong enough to take the extra weight caused by any conversion work.”

Planning applications must include full details demonstrating the building is indeed structurally sound.

“Uncertainty caused by Brexit and the fact all the straightforward conversions have already been carried out has also impacted on the number of applications being brought forward.”

Naomi Quick concluded: “As always, owners, developers or lifestyle buyers looking for a dream move to the country should obtain the latest advice in order to achieve a successful permission.”