NFU responds to Rural Planning Review


The NFU has made ten headline recommendations in its response to a government review of rural planning rules.

We welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the joint Defra/Department for Communities and Local Government call for evidence, and to continue to lobby on behalf of our members in an area which impacts directly on their businesses.

In our 2015 Manifesto we called for ‘planning rules that enable farmers and farm enterprises to compete and grow with expanding potential market and conform to regulatory requirements’.

NFU members need a simplified planning system that promotes the rural economy, reduces risk and allows them to react to the external challenges faced by their businesses.

It should support them in maintaining sustainable rural businesses and deliver new efficient buildings, operations and homes. Renewable energy installations also have a key role to play on farm and within modern farming businesses with planning policy that recognises this.

Members can read our full response to the Rural Planning Review here.

In summary - we’re calling for:

  1. An authoritative and well-grounded planning policy for rural areas and farming that establishes clear boundaries for local interpretation and that is monitored in all areas of planning.
  2. Updated planning policies and procedures that recognise the necessity of change to deliver economic growth, adapt to new market conditions. These policies should allow for accommodating new technology by providing for (amongst other activities) new realistically sized farming buildings and operations, polytunnels and protected cropping (e.g. glasshouses), reservoirs, on-farm retail, food and produce processing and on-farm renewable energy. Guidance should also recognise the need for new on-farm accommodation including temporary as well as permanent accommodation, whether by new build or conversion.
  3. To improve consistency in the planning system, there should be training for all those involved in decision making through the planning system that leads from the top and is devolved down and monitored in all areas of planning.
  4. Clear guidance to be given to those who comment on planning applications, both statutory consultees and third parties so they are better informed of their rights and responsibilities.
  5. Simplified planning rules to address climate change and extreme weather events both through adaptation and mitigation.
  6. Simplified planning rules to promote the provision of digital technologies and connectivity on farm.
  7. A review of how dealing with farm planning applications can be improved, and speeded-up, from pre-application, through processing to the need for legal agreements.
  8. A review of how the planning system can be improved to halt the decline of farming in national parks and AONB and other protected landscapes.
  9. A review of housing policy for rural areas so that farms and rural businesses can access the homes they need and their businesses can continue to operate.
  10. This policy then needs to be embedded in every local and neighbourhood plan and be the starting point for development control and plan-led decision making.

NFU members: Have your say

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  • Posted by: Vivienne TannaPosted on: 28/04/2016 12:36:25

    Comment: What I am seeing in my local area is large areas of farmland being earmarked for development in the local development plan. Yes some land needs to be earmarked for sensitively designed rural housing (not sprawling estates) but there also needs to be some control over this process to prevent local communities and villages losing their integrity and identity.
  • Posted by: linda burrowsPosted on: 30/04/2016 12:51:45

    Comment: i farm 70 acres 3 miles from Leeds City Centre in Greenbelt. I am not treated as either rural or urban with regard to any planning. what can i do?
  • Posted by: Robert AdeyPosted on: 11/05/2016 10:56:50

    Comment: Being exactly in the middle of the midlands but right on the edge of different counties/districts plus being the division between east and west midlands we seem to get treated like some far distant island like the Orkneys not like near neighbour to 4 towns and handy for Birmingham ,Derby , Leicester Nottingham.At the present time Birmingham has announced it can only accommodate 60% of its housing needs and expects surrounding district councils to make this up.This is going to be really challenging for those west midlands districts but a small percentage of this housing requirement should be fulfilled along very convenient growth spurs slightly into the east midlands such as up to Ashby de la Zouch along the M42 A42 or to Burton along the A38 but arbitrary black lines on map and lack of cross boundary decision making hinder achieving the best outcome.It must be far easier to be right in the middle of one county.

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