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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello. Myself and my husband (Irish) want to move our metal fabrication business back into the EU (to service customers there) and have decided on France for many reasons. We have lots of questions and research to do and two years to do it due to obligations here in the UK.

We currently live and work in a very rural, countryside environment and would like the same in France. Our number one priority is finding a home with outbuildings to house our machinery, preferably with three phase electricity. Our first question is how easy is it to get permission to turn existing farm barns or hangers in to light industrial use? and would anyone have any idea how and where I would research this?

Many thanks.
 

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I suspect this would be a thing you have to look into for each individual property you are interested in, because it's basically down to the municipal council. Each commune has a land use plan, and according to how their land is zoned on the current plan they will or will not consider applications to put a specific property to industrial use. So for some properties it would be no problem and the commune would actually encourage it, for other properties it would be impossible.
One issues is that there is an organisation called SAFER that can in effect veto the sale of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes (to try and limit the loss of farmland across France). So again, it will depend what recent trends have been in an area and whether SAFER has concerns that the area's agricultural land is being eroded.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I suspect this would be a thing you have to look into for each individual property you are interested in, because it's basically down to the municipal council. Each commune has a land use plan, and according to how their land is zoned on the current plan they will or will not consider applications to put a specific property to industrial use. So for some properties it would be no problem and the commune would actually encourage it, for other properties it would be impossible.
One issues is that there is an organisation called SAFER that can in effect veto the sale of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes (to try and limit the loss of farmland across France). So again, it will depend what recent trends have been in an area and whether SAFER has concerns that the area's agricultural land is being eroded.
Thank you that is very helpful and much appreciated.
 

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Our number one priority is finding a home with outbuildings to house our machinery, preferably with three phase electricity.
Check that, not only is the infra-structure to have 3-phase connected (if not already connected) but the cabling is able to take the require load. Running new cabling is not only expensive, but it can be a long drawn out process.
 

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It may vary somewhat by region, but in my experience it is supposed to be almost impossible to change land zoned for agriculture into commercial use. But the PLU (land use configuration) usually is renewed every few years and I suppose it might be somewhat easier to get a change in land use when the whole map is up for review rather than to try for a "derogation" when you're new in town.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all so much. This is incredibly helpful.

So we are not looking for acres of farm land, just suitable building/s. It sounds like a redundant existing agricultural barn sold with a house might be a headache and it is so good to be aware of this. We can of course keep our eye out for buildings already designated for light industrial use, old or new.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It might be an option ( better) to purchase a house with land and install an prefab hanger or other aluminum structure for your purposes. Basically a big garage.
Thank you. That could definitely work. In theory anyway....
 

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It might be an option ( better) to purchase a house with land and install an prefab hanger or other aluminum structure for your purposes. Basically a big garage.
That would be my preferred choice.

Another thing to consider is that many out buildings in France are covered in asbestos. Roof tiles generally, but also inside.

Getting rid of it would be too costly.
 

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It might be an option ( better) to purchase a house with land and install an prefab hanger or other aluminum structure for your purposes. Basically a big garage.
There is still the issue of the "zoning" to consider. And, any out building greater than 20 m2 requires a construction permit. (An out building 20 m2 or less requires a "declaration" that is nearly the same as the permit.)
 

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There is still the issue of the "zoning" to consider. And, any out building greater than 20 m2 requires a construction permit. (An out building 20 m2 or less requires a "declaration" that is nearly the same as the permit.)
Considering the cost to lease or purchase commercial property even in the most rural places in France or having to go thru many different organizations and time with an agricultural property this is the easiest option.
 

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If you do start looking at properties my advice would be to take with a very large pinch of salt anything an agent or vendor tells you and do your own research If you find a suitable property go along to the local Mairie and have a chat with them about what you want to do They may well have suggestions or know of suitable premises You will also find the local Chamber of Commerce very helpful as they can set up the right business structure and give advice on grants etc
www.cci.fr
Also some areas have an organisation called Pepinieres des Entreprises which are basically set up in areas where employment is difficult eg rural and can hold your hand to get you started
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You are all so kind and helpful. I am so glad to have posted. OK so I am trying to get my head around all of this.

So, farms and farm buildings come with the potential SAFER problems, or sometimes not. Conversion of agricultural buildings would need permission and may not be granted for non agricultural use (but possibly for tourism/habitation) BUT we would have to approach each commune to really get a better idea of this - we have not looked into areas of France yet, so will have to do this at some point soon.

Building a new structure would also be subject to much red tape and possible rejection.

Here is an example of completely random house but with a barn of a suitable size (we would not buy this place due to proximity to neighbours, so imagine it is isolated!). In order for us to populate the barn with machinery, we would not have to alter a thing structurally with the barn. The only possible change might be a new level floor. So assuming three phase is OK, no asbestos etc, we would still have to go though the local commune for change of use. Given this banr is clearly not used for agricultural purposes in any recent times, I wonder if that would be a positive?


I am not worried about structural or electrical problems etc etc. My husband is an Engineer and excellent electrician with a lot of experience in building thanks to working in his teens and twenties for his fathers building business back in Ireland. I am very lucky there. So he is very good, almost boringly too good, at spotting problems.....

Again, massive thanks for your input.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
If you do start looking at properties my advice would be to take with a very large pinch of salt anything an agent or vendor tells you and do your own research If you find a suitable property go along to the local Mairie and have a chat with them about what you want to do They may well have suggestions or know of suitable premises You will also find the local Chamber of Commerce very helpful as they can set up the right business structure and give advice on grants etc
www.cci.fr
Also some areas have an organisation called Pepinieres des Entreprises which are basically set up in areas where employment is difficult eg rural and can hold your hand to get you started
Thank you for the excellent link :)
 
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