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Rural planning: a help or a hindrance to economic growth?

Mon 12 February 2018

The rural planning system is seen by many as a barrier to economic growth and there are certainly occasions where it can hamper development.  However, there is an argument that in more recent years the system is in fact helping to drive some rural growth.

For example, Permitted Development Rights for the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential use were introduced in 2013.  While these rights do not fit all cases, for many they have provided a means to release significant value from buildings that were otherwise of little benefit, or even a burden, to rural businesses. Capital gained can then be reinvested into the core farming business. 

Class R Permitted Development Rights, which allow agricultural buildings to be used for a range of uses including commercial and retail, subject to the requirements being met, have also helped farmers and landowners diversify.  One case that Stags took forward resulted in a redundant vegetable packing house obtaining change of use to commercial and, with a tenant already in the offing, a much needed additional rental income was swiftly secured.

In line with national policy, many Local Authorities are now more favourable to economic development in rural areas and when it comes to diversification, the planning system is reasonably supportive. Where the system has failed however is that it remains complex and often requires significant expenditure before success is secured. This complexity can also result in significant delay. 

The system is far from perfect and despite ongoing government claims we fear it is unlikely to fundamentally change in the immediate future. However, with the right advice and advance preparation many of the delays and perceived barriers can be overcome.  

Please contact Stags Planning Department for assistance with planning matters. 

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