Farm Buildings: Policy and Practice

Join this course to learn how to apply our updated guidance on traditional farm buildingswhich allows for new uses and conversion for traditional farm buildings to be considered where appropriate, along with our maintenance guidance. National Parks are some of our most special areas in the country and the issues can sometimes be more acute here.

Who should Attend?

Our key target audience is conservation officers/local planners, but also practitioners, for example conservation architects, that are involved in the planning process. We will also welcome National Park Planning Committee members as those that make decisions about these buildings.

Why should you join this course

To be able to advise on the sustainable development and conservation of traditional farm buildings through a positive approach to planning and good quality design.


At the end of this course:

  • Remember that most significant farm buildings are not listed. Some areas (particularly upland) with the fewest listed buildings have the highest survival of traditional farmsteads. There are also pre-1700 buildings that await recording and discovery. But these areas also have the highest rates of functional redundancy and dereliction – and re-use that respects significance and sensitivity is likely to be the best way to retain their heritage and landscape importance.
  • Understand that there are often limited choices for the owners of traditional farm buildings – lose, maintain, repair, adapt or replace them. Those without a regular income and lacking the capacity to change are most at risk, and that the adaptive reuse of some such buildings has been effectively in Northumberland
  • Understand that the NPPF policy context for sustainable development through adaptive re-use exists
  • Apply the three core steps outlined in The Adaptive Re-use of Traditional Farm Buildings (2017) to making decisions about farm buildings. These are: understanding traditional farmsteads, assessing significance, adapting farm buildings
  • Delgates will be able to use the Farmstead Assessment Framework, to analyse the historic character and significance of farmsteads and their buildings in their local rural and landscape setting. They should be able to compare and contrast these findings with the need to adapt, and make a balanced decision about the best option to safeguard significance
  • Evaluate farm buildings’ potential for and sensitivity to change. Where appropriate, delegates will be able to use HE policy and tools to make a case for new uses that will ensure the long term survival of the buildings and, in some areas, catalyse regeneration.
  • Delegates should affect change by making and defending decisions that encourage historic farm buildings to be sensitively adapted for new uses
Farm buildings being converted to residential use.
Farm buildings being converted, Abbey Farm Barns, Thetford, Norfolk © Historic England, Patricia Payne, image reference DP173660

Course outline

Pre-course learning

Traditional Farm Buildings Screencast 

Face-to-face Course*

09:30 Registration
10:00 Welcome & Introduction
10:05 What do we know so far
10:15 Recap on pre-course learning
10:35 Understanding traditional farmsteads
10:50 Intro to case study exercise
11:00 Break
11:15 Case study scenario exercises
12:15 Farmstead conservation project
12:30 Lunch break
13:00 Intro to farmstead assessment framework
13:15 Site visit to practice farmstead assessment framework
16:00 Worksheet to consider how they will apply the training
16:15 Final summary session
16:30 Close

*Timings of individual items may vary but start and end times will stay the same.

Meet the course tutors

Sarah Tunnicliffe

Sarah is the National Rural & Environmental Adviser in the Government Advice Team at Historic England. Sarah works on a broad range of issues which include protected landscapes, socio-economic research and project management of Heritage Online Debate.  Sarah is currently on secondment for half her post working on the Countryside Stewardship Historic Buildings Restoration Pilot Project in five upland National Parks.

Vince Holyoak

Vince Holyoak is Head of Rural & Environmental Advice at Historic England. Vince is responsible for liaison with a variety of rural stakeholders, including farmers, land managers and Defra and its agencies. Although an archaeologist by training, he has come to appreciate a nice farm building when he sees one...

Jeremy Lake

Formerly of Historic England, Jeremy Lake has worked on the assessment of all aspects of the historic environment, from work as an Inspector of Historic Buildings in London and other parts of England to strategic landscape work at a national scale including military sites and landscapes and the rural historic environment - in particular farmsteads in their landscapes, and contributing to the revision of the National Character Areas by Natural England.

Course venue and booking

Click on the links to book the course at your chosen venue:

If you find that the Eventbrite booking system indicates that this course is fully booked, you can email [email protected] to be placed on a waiting list for the course in the event of places becoming unexpectedly free.

Learning Resources

Guidance note: The Adaptive Reuse of Traditional Farm Buildings (Historic England Good Practice Advice Note 9)

Guidance note: Adapting Traditional Farm Buildings

Guidance note: The Maintenance and Repair of Traditional Farm Buildings

Guidance note: National Farmstead Assessment Framework

Screencast: Traditional Farm Buildings


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