Warning planning red tape putting farmers off diversifying

By James Pugh | Business | Published:

Rural businesses in the UK are being left frustrated by planning red tape at a vital time when they need to explore diversification options, according to the managing director of a chartered surveyors.

Paul Madeley, from Much Wenlock-based Madeleys Chartered Surveyors

Paul Madeley, from Much Wenlock-based Madeleys Chartered Surveyors, believes the planning process is putting off farming and rural businesses from working on new projects when they need to be considering their future directions.

It comes as Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick backs a report from think tank Policy Exchange calling for reform in the planning system and what he calls an “overly bureaucratic planning process”.

His comments follow ongoing promises to “radically reform” the planning system, with extensions to permitted development rights and new zoning-style permission in principle, which could significantly reduce councils’ influence on the process.

“I would be in support of some change to the planning process,” said Paul. “Some of the decisions being made up and down the country are extremely frustrating. It seems that as soon as there is any objection from a consultee, then it is likely an application would get refused.

“I’m not saying it should be a free-for-all, of course, there has to be protection of our habitat and environment, but there also has to be some common sense.”

As the Agriculture Bill draws ever closer, which will be the biggest shake up to how farms are funded for generations, Paul said it is vital that rural businesses are not hamstrung if they want to diversify some of their land or buildings in order to keep a sustainable business for the future post-EU subsidies.

“You just get the feeling that the system is looking for grounds to refuse, rather than the other way around,” said Paul.

“If you are converting old farm buildings into residential, then surely that has to be better than developing whole new homes on untouched land? These buildings are already there, they just need the work to be given the nod. So many farmers are giving up on this kind of thing because they get so frustrated by delays and red tape in the planning process.”

James Pugh

By James Pugh

Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.

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