CLA Wales questions why the Welsh Government is left behind on planning again

09 November 2013

Two major CLA lobbying successes that result in reducing planning regulations in England has made it easier to bring agricultural and office buildings back into productive use. CLA Wales urges Welsh Government to adopt a similar approach immediately to stop Welsh rural businesses falling further behind.

Both proposals will come into force 30 May and will mean that farms and rural businesses in England will be able to convert existing buildings which are presently empty or unfit for purpose, to suit modern purposes and benefit the rural economy.

The Association has lobbied successive governments for nearly a decade to allow the use of agricultural outbuildings to be converted to new uses that will benefit rural areas, such as shops, restaurants, small hotels, leisure facilities and offices without the need for planning permission for change of use.  

It has also argued that rural offices that are commercially unviable should be allowed to be converted to much-needed rural housing under permitted development rights. 

"This is great news for England but once again Wales is behind on an issue that is so vital in stimulating the rural economy. We have presented pages of documents to Ministers outlining the adverse impacts that occur because of the highly restrictive and contradictive planning process in Wales.

"This proposal would be most welcome in Wales at a time when farming businesses are seriously under pressure and would help create much needed new jobs and also attract businesses into Wales.

"We will continue to push for a change in Welsh planning law in advance of the planning Bill that is scheduled for 2015. These changes need to be immediate."

"These new planning proposals will allow farm buildings of 500m2 or less the flexibility to change into a range of new business uses which will help stimulate rural economic growth. It will also allow the change of use of offices to residential. Many of our members are currently paying empty property rates because of a lack of business tenants so allowing a change of use will reduce costs and provide much-needed homes in rural areas."