Reusing Farm Buildings
Traditional farm buildings have important potential for the diversification of the rural economy in terms of branding, amenity, environmental improvements and economically viable new uses, and create an additional source of income.
Traditional farm buildings make an important contribution to the character of our rural landscape and play a central role in the symbolic self-understanding of Irish people as rural, self sufficient, and resourceful. This image has come under threat, with many of these buildings now underused for modern farming purposes, leading to disrepair. A wasted asset is difficult to invest in but if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it!
They have important potential for the diversification of the rural economy in terms of branding, amenity, environmental improvements and economically viable new uses, and create an additional source of income. Some opportunities for new uses of farm buildings include:
- industrial workshops
- artists’ studios/craft workshops
- training centres.
An underused resource can be converted into a valuable asset. Although there can be a substantial financial and environmental reward for landowners able to convert for these purposes, there are a number of important considerations. A landowner should carry out a feasibility study themselves to establish the implication of proceeding with the conversion, and the potential benefits.
First think about the use that you want for the building and how it might impact on you and your farm.
Conversion into residential use remains the most popular option. Many older farm settlements have the advantage of a good location due to their early establishment in terms of shelter, orientation and views.
Over the past few years diversified farm and rural businesses have opened up to visitors. Setting up on-farm holiday accommodation, by adapting an existing building into a holiday self catering let is a popular choice for diversification.
Retail uses of converted agricultural buildings can include craft and clothes shops, farm supply shops, warehouse-style retail outlets, and retail units linked to tourism attractions. Franchises are another option where the farmer can buy into an already successful retail business and replicate it at the farm.
Fact sheet produced by Dr Alan M. Hurley, Teagasc, Grange, Co. Meath and Anna Meenan, Project Manager of GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme, The Heritage Council, Co. Kilkenny.