Government planning policy is holding back the rural economy because it still fails to adequately reflect that the countryside holds a wealth of opportunity alongside farming.
That is according to the CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, in its consultation response to the draft revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The Association has welcomed a number of hard won, positive changes contained in the new NPPF which once implemented will help to boost rural communities. However, it argues that long-standing perceptions held by planners about what the countryside is exclusively for, must be challenged to ensure the needs of the modern rural economy are met.
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “The Government has brought forward important policy improvements that will better address the specific needs of people who live and work in the countryside. We have welcomed many of the points within the revised framework such as Entry Level Exception Sites to build more affordable homes, but more can be done to inject growth into the rural economy and help our villages thrive.
“Currently, rural areas are largely neglected so policy changes must go further, especially in strategic plan making which is overly dominated by cities and other urban centres.
“While farming is the core industry crucial to our countryside, there is so much more going on. Our countryside is home to a diverse business landscape held back by the planning system. Outdated views of what the countryside is, and what is required to make it sustainable remain, and must be challenged so that people living and working in rural areas have the sameopportunities as those in urban areas.”
The CLA has also expressed concerns over changes to development tax proposed in both the NPPF and in a separate consultation focussed solely on developer contributions.
Developers are charged a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) when planning permission is granted to build residential and commercial units. The CLA says the combined effect of both consultations appear to remove virtually all incentives for landowners to bring agricultural land forward for development.
Mr Breitmeyer said: “New proposals for developer contributions will lead to even more costs being shifted on to the price landowners receive for the land. Frontloading these costs, especially before planning decisions are made, will serve as a major barrier to businesses taking risks and bringing forward the innovative development that rural areas need.”