British Standards Relevant to Agriculture

British Standard Summaries

BS5502: Part 11: 1996
Building and Structures for Agriculture.
A Guide to the Regulations and Sources of Information

The text herein is not a a full reproduction of the British Standard. It is summary based upon interpretation of the original text and not intended as a replacement for the full text. It should be used for general guidance only.

BS5502 is sub-divided into a number of individual standards. These can be broadly broken down as follows:

  • Part 0: Introduction
  • Parts 10 - 19: Reference information
  • Parts 20 - 39: General designs
  • Parts 40 - 59: Livestock buildings
  • Parts 60 - 79: Crop buildings
  • Parts 80 - 99: Ancillary buildings

BS5502 Part 11 identifies statutory instruments and regulations which apply to buildings and structures used for agricultural purposes. It does not interpret the law. Annex A provides information on other additional sources of support.

Note: The law can and does change! This standard may be updated at any time to account for such changes in the UK statute system. The user has a responsibility to check the full legal position before any decisions are taken regarding the design and construction of any agricultural building. This version of Standard was last updated in 1996.

Planning in England and Wales

  • A planning application will need to be made to the Local Authority for the erection, extension or alteration of an agricultural building unless it benefits from the permitted development rights set out in the Town and Country (General Development) Order 1988 as amended.
  • Exemption may be claimed if certain conditions are met. These conditions relate to the type of work, building size and proximity to other new buildings, its distance from trunk or classified roads or its intended use (must not be used as a dwelling or in certain situations used for livestock or storage of slurry). Different rules are in place depending on the size of the holding.

Planning in Scotland

  • The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972 requires any one proposing to develop land to first obtain planning permission from the Local Authority. However, in the case of most agricultural buildings, planning permission is deemed to be granted under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992 and express planning permission is not therefore required.
  • There are certain exclusions to this general status. These relate to very small holdings, large new constructions, the use of the building as a dwelling or if it is close to a trunk or classified road. Livestock buildings or slurry stores are also excluded if they will be close to a protected building.
  • Developments may still require to be notified to Scottish Natural Heritage if they are within a Site of Special Scientific Interest and are listed as Potentially Damaging Operations.
  • The local Planning Authority will need to be notified of all works even if it is deemed as permitted.


  • Consideration must be given to all legal requirements affecting environmentally sensitive or protected areas including SSSI’s, historic monuments and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Such areas may impose restrictions on farm buildings.
  • New building or significant alterations to buildings within such areas should be ‘in-keeping’ with the local character.
  • The major legal instrument in this area for England and Wales, is the Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988 and for Scotland is the Environmental  Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 1988.
  • These regulations are only likely to affect major new agricultural developments such as significant pig or poultry units.

Historic buildings and archaeological remains

  • Local authorites hold records of listed buildings, those of special architectural or historic interest and lists of scheduled archaeological remains.
  • You must not demolish a listed building nor must you alter or extend it such that its original character is affected.
  • Local Authorities prefer historic farm buildings to remain in agricultural use. Changes such that it is used for non-agricultural purposes are often deemed to affect the original character and so not permitted.
  • When farm buildings are altered or extended care should be taken to match, as far as possible, the original traditional materials and colour-ways/texture.

Building Regulations

  • In England, Building Regulations 1991 do not apply to buildings listed in Schedule 3 of the regulations. These include greenhouses and agricultural buildings provided certain conditions apply. These conditions include, for example, buildings used for retailing, buildings close to other buildings with sleeping areas or those without fire exits.
  • In Scotland, Buildings erected on agricultural land are exempt from Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations 1990 subject to certain exceptions. These exceptions include, for example, buildings used for retail, buildings exceeding 2000 m3 capacity, buildings close to residential or institutional accommodation or if buildings store FYM, slurry, or silage effluent.

Pollution Control

  • In England the Water Resources Act 1991 makes it an offence to pollute any controlled waters (e.g. groundwater, surface water, coastal waters, steams, ponds, or dykes). Discharges are permitted if they are licensed by the regulating authority (Environment Agency).
  • In Scotland the Control of Pollution Act 1974 amended by the Water Act 1989 provides similar protection.
  • Water Industries Act 1991 controls discharges to public sewers. It also deals with water supplies. It also covers waste, misuse, undue consumption and contamination of water supplies.
  • The PEPFAA Code in Scotland defines good agricultural practice and describes statutory obligations to avoid causing environmental pollution.
  • The England Water Code is a statutory code which seeks to protect against water pollution. It covers the main pollutants such as organic manures, sheep dips, silage effluent and fertilisers etc.
  • The England Soil Code is a practical guide to help protect against damage and pollution of soils.
  • The England Air Code provides practical guidance to help protect air quality and prevent air pollution.
  • The Reservoirs Act 1975 guards against the escape of water from large reservoirs or lakes / lochs that have been artificially created or enlarged.
  • The Environmental Protection Act 1990 covers a range of pollution issues including odours and emissions to air. It introduces prescribed processes and prescribed substances. It also covers waste.
  • The Control of Pollution Act 1974 introduces controlled wastes and protects against land pollution from waste.
  • Farm waste regulations [due for review and update in 2005] include the Control of Pollution (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) Regulations 1991 for England and Wales. Similar regulations are in place in Scotland.
  • The full Standard also describes the European Directives that drive the country legal Acts and regulations.
  • The Clean Air Acts, the Public Health Acts and the Building Regulations govern design, construction and installation of chimneys and flues. Collectively these statutes address health, safety and environmental issues.
  • Noise is controlled by the Control of Pollution Act 1974.
  • Safety is governed by regulations such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
  • Animal welfare issues in England are covered by Welfare of Livestock Regulations and the various livestock welfare codes (e.g. cattle, pigs and sheep). Similar codes are available for Scotland.
  • Public Health Acts provide for certain precautions associated with drains and sewers.
  • The full Standard also deals with special regulatory controls for specialised production premises such as those used for keeping mink.


  • In England, the Public Health Act 1961 controls farm drainage. Local Authorities may refuse to accept farm discharges into the public sewer. The Land Drainage Act and the Water Resources Act 1991 will also influence drainage and sewer services on developments in England and Wales.
  • In Scotland, the Sewage (Scotland) Act 1968 controls the release of farm effluent into sewers and drains.
  • Various regulations cover the provision of electricity. These include the Electricity Act and regulations laid out by the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) which relate mainly to installation, maintainence and testing of electrical equipment.
  • Gas installations must comply with the Gas Safety Regulations. Various guidance notes are published by the Health and Safety  Executive.

Annex A

Annex A of the Standard provides a comprehensive list of organisations which may provide additional support for agricultural developments. In some cases a fee will be payable. These organisations include:

A British Standard nor this summary does not, necessarily, include all the necessary information for correct implementation of the Standard to any specific application. This is purely the responsibility of the user. Standards are updated by either amendment or revision. Users should ensure that they are using the latest version.



The full text of this Standard can be obtained from the British Standard Institution

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