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Barn Conversion Derbyshire: Transforming Historic Buildings

21 May 2024
Barn Conversions Derbyshire

Punchard Group specialises in rural planning. We have assisted many property owners across Derbyshire in conceptualising and building their dream barn conversions, creating a space that suits their needs while retaining the distinctive features of the barn that add value and personality. 

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Maintaining the character of your barn

We understand the importance of preserving the historical elements of old barns in Derbyshire to keep their character alive. Retaining the original shape and size of the windows and doors, for example, helps to uphold the barn's historical appearance, even when integrating modern amenities like secondary glazing. 

We believe in taking an approach that balances honouring the past of a building and ensuring it is up to standard and fits your aesthetic preferences. We can help you transform your barn into a functional space that maintains the character of the original property. 

Conservation Areas in Derbyshire

If your barn is a listed building, there will be restrictions on the modifications you can make. Additionally, many buildings in Derbyshire aren’t listed, but they contribute to the landscape and streetscapes of the area and are within a Conservation area. There are over 300 conservation areas, with 33 in the Derbyshire Dales area outside the Peak District National Park. We can help you navigate these regulations to help your project get approved by your local council’s planning department. 

Historic features of barns in Derbyshire

Traditional Barn Layouts

Traditional barn layout derbyshire


Barns in Derbyshire are typically constructed using simple, rectangular shapes. These buildings may be standalone, built in an “L” or “U” shaped courtyard formation, or have multiple buildings facing each other in a loose courtyard formation. Typically, the main farmhouse will be set close to the road, while the additional barns will be set back into the property.  

The traditional barn layouts have a functional purpose, offering a large, open area for work and some shelter from the elements in the winter. This design choice can translate beautifully into a new barn conversion, as it provides plenty of privacy and a comfortable place to enjoy the outdoors year-round.


Most traditional barns in Derbyshire were not designed for human habitation, but rather used to shelter livestock or store fodder and crops. They are often spacious and unpartitioned inside. Maintaining the open-plan feel of your barn instead of dividing it into rooms will help preserve its spatial character and may be necessary for planning permission in some cases.

Barn Conversion Peak District


Depending on the original usage of the barn, there is variability in the amount of headroom; threshing barns designed for efficient crop processing, for example, would have high levels of headroom, while there may be low headroom in smaller buildings, such as those intended for sheep.


Many buildings, especially those intended for cattle, have a single floor only. However, sometimes, they may include an upper level that serves as a hayloft, typically accessed via an external stone staircase.


Barn roofs in Derbyshire tend to be relatively simple, with minimal ornamentation and detailing. They are often either traditionally dual or mono-pitched (especially when adjoined to other buildings on the property). These sloping roofs can reduce headroom a little if you intend on having an additional floor. 

Dormers and gablets are rarely included due to the nature of the building (they are typically used to provide light for attic bedrooms in inhabited buildings). If you want to add more light to your barn through the roof, obtaining planning permission may be challenging as it significantly alters its simplicity. However, there are cases where a roof light may be permitted.

Building materials


Most historic barns in Derbyshire were built using local materials. You will help preserve the character of the building and the local area by using these materials or lookalikes in your barn conversion. Limestone is a popular choice for walls in many areas, particularly in the Peak District; clay brick is commonly used in South Derbyshire, while sandstone is prevalent in places like Bakewell and is sometimes more widely used around openings and for quoins.

Barn conversion Derbyshire historic


Packed dirt, brick, Stone-flag, and cobble floors are common flooring types in barns in Derbyshire. Timber floors may be present on upper floors or in threshing barns. Less commonly, lime ash is used on upper floors. 


Roofs contribute significantly to the overall look of a building. Throughout Derbyshire, these are characteristically composed of slate, stone slate, clay tiles imported from Staffordshire, or thatched. 


Windows and doors

Since most barns were not originally designed for habitation, they typically have few openings, limiting window and entrance placement options. Adding additional windows or doors to a historic barn is generally discouraged; windows contribute a lot to the character of your barn, so modifying them can significantly change its appearance. Similarly, adding skylights or dormers to the roof may also be resisted. We will work with you to find a solution that preserves the character of your space while fulfilling your needs. 


The spaces between your buildings add to the overall character of your property. These gaps frame the surrounding landscape, livestock, and farmland, providing unique views of the outside world. Wherever feasible, we will work with you to create a plan that conserves these openings as much as possible.

Other traditional features

  • Window frame, door, joinery, and guttering colours: There are strict guidelines on the colours that can be used for paintwork in many areas. If you are located in the Peak District, DDDC has a full guide to permitted colours you can use to inform your choices. 
  • Vent holes: Many barns will have small openings across the walls to allow for better airflow. There may be many openings that are intricately placed (more common in clay houses in South Derbyshire) or a few, strategically-placed slit-like openings.
  • Metal hinges and handles: Doors may operate using metal strap hinges, allowing them to open outwards and fold back against the wall. 
  • Dovecotes: Additional openings may have been built into the end of a barn to allow doves or pigeons to nest.  
  • Hooks, hayracks, troughs, and animal stalls: There may be tools remaining in your barn from when it was a working farm. Wherever possible, integrating these features into your new conversion will help retain more of the history of the property. 
Metal Strap Hinge

Get help with your barn conversion

Our team can assist you with every step of your project - from obtaining planning permission to managing your building project from start to finish. We have helped clients all across Derbyshire to secure planning permission and successfully convert their building. From family homes to holiday lets, we can help you design a one-of-a-kind space.

We have expertise in planning, surveying, building, and interior design and we can see your project through from end to end. Would you like some advice on your project? Talk to us about your barn conversion project using the contact button below or by emailing us at