Planning and housing package ‘welcome but not enough for rural businesses’, says CLA

24 October 2013

The CLA said today (6 September 2012) that the major housing and planning package announced by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister is "welcome but does not go far enough for rural businesses".

CLA President Harry Cotterell said he was pleased David Cameron and Nick Clegg have recognised the planning system needs to change to deliver for the rural economy.

He said: "This is encouraging news. However, we do not believe the package goes far enough to inspire the level of confidence needed for rural businesses to risk making greater investment in their enterprises.

"Today's statement recognises the burden that can be imposed under Section 106 agreements on development sites and we welcome the Government's proposal to fund affordable housing through governmental guarantees.

"But the statement fails to acknowledge that requirements to pay for other infrastructure, such as roads, car parking and traffic restrictions, is also discouraging smaller rural-based businesses from investing."

Mr Cotterell said it is good the Government is looking at speeding up the appeals system, often the final part of the planning process, but it needs to do more to make the front end application process faster, more efficient and less expensive for small rural businesses, if they are to deliver rural economic growth.

He said: "At present, applicants have to provide expensive reports in support of their applications which are often disproportionate to the size of the development proposed and, in some cases, irrelevant. These reports provide no guarantee that the planning application will be validated, let alone granted approval.

"There was a case where a landowner wanted to provide flood defences at his own expense. He ended up spending more money on paperwork for the local authority at the start of the process than he did eventually in building the defences."