19 June 2020
Could planning shake-up be good news for owner-farmers?
FARM owners in the UK who have been left frustrated by planning red tape at a vital time when they need to explore diversification options could see some positive change if a radical shake-up of the UK planning system goes ahead.
With the Agriculture Bill drawing closer, which will be the biggest shake up to how farms are funded for generations, some farm owners have looked at ways to diversify some of their land or buildings to keep a sustainable business for future post-EU subsidies.
But many shelve such projects because they become frustrated by the delays and red tape involved in the UK planning process.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has now backed a report from think tank Policy Exchange calling for reform in the planning system and what he calls an “overly bureaucratic planning process”.
His comments follow ongoing promises to “radically reform” the planning system, with extensions to permitted development rights and new zoning-style permission in principle, which could significantly reduce councils’ influence on the process.
It has been argued that converting old farm buildings into residential makes more sense than using untouched land for new home development.
MD of Madeleys Chartered Surveyors, Paul Madeley (pictured), said this could mark a new era for owner-farmers.
“Some of the decisions being made up and down the country are extremely frustrating. It seems that as soon as there is any objection from a consultee, then it is likely an application would get refused," he said. "I’m not saying it should be a free-for-all. Of course there has to be protection of our habitat and environment, but there also has to be some common sense.”