Rural businesses still face barriers to housing and economic development in the countryside despite the government’s attempt to make the planning system more streamlined and efficient.
The CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses surveyed its members to gain insights about their experiences of applying for planning permission to build new homes and agricultural buildings, as well as commercial and industrial premises to let.
The survey shows that applications from rural landowning businesses face significant delays, additional costs and unrealistic demands from local authorities.
Results from the survey of 380 CLA members reveal that:
- a third of those surveyed said the main barrier to their planning application being submitted was a delay by the local authority, with another third saying the local planning authority demanded irrelevant or unrealistic reports or surveys;
- almost a quarter said the cost of producing the reports and surveys blocked development and another quarter said additional reports requested once the application was validated were yet another hurdle to overcome;
- less than one in six respondents experienced no major barriers during the planning application process;
- inconsistency from local authorities in the quality and usefulness of pre-application advice was an issue for around half of respondents who said the advice was not helpful in submitting a planning application;
- a quarter of planning applications cost more than £25,000;
- rural businesses are 13% less likely to get planning approval for a business or residential development than the national average.
CLA Head of Planning Fenella Collins said, “The need for rural businesses to establish and grow is more important than ever to help address the challenges of Brexit in the countryside. We must have a planning system which enables rather than inhibits growth in order for those businesses and communities to thrive post-Brexit.
“However, our survey shows that despite government intervention with the National Planning Policy Framework, rural economic development is still being stifled by a planning system that is costly, inconsistent and hard to navigate.
“We want to help build a stronger, more sustainable countryside by providing opportunities to create more profitable businesses and desperately needed homes. We will be sharing our findings with local authority colleagues and the Government to look for ways to break down the real and perceived barriers that are holding rural enterprises back from making beneficial investments in their business and local community.”