After a lengthy period of robust lobbying, the CLA says the Government consultation on planning reforms - which would allow some redundant and currently unsuitable buildings to change use without a full planning application – is a big step in the right direction.
However, the organisation has expressed dismay that certain areas of the country will be now exempt from the reform.
The exemption for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty was announced in a statement by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on 6 March and means that many rural areas will not reap the wide-ranging social and economic benefits that the reforms will provide.
The CLA has consistently lobbied for deregulation in the planning system to help breathe new life into dilapidated buildings and is delighted that many of its arguments have been listened to and acted upon by Government.
CLA Midlands regional surveyor Richard Goodwin said: “We strongly support the principle of these proposals. The creation of new homes benefits those who live and work in the countryside and allowing some agricultural farm buildings to be modified and reused will retain the heritage of these structures for further generations. This will encourage employment and the income generated will help land managers to look after and protect the natural environment.
“But it is a real shame that these benefits will not apply in designated areas such as National Parks, where the need for new homes is critical and where many communities are already deemed to be “unsustainable” having lost vital services over the years due to the restriction on new housing and employment development.
“Planning minister Nick Boles said that Government would encourage planning authorities in the exempted areas to look positively on applications for change of use.
“Therefore we will be closely monitoring these authorities to make sure that this happens. Doing nothing with our built resource and heritage is not an option.”
The Ministerial Statement on local planning can be found here
Nick Boles’ comments on planning and National Parks can be found here