William Eichler 19 April 2018

Rural business ‘stifled’ by planning system, warn landowners

Rural business ‘stifled’ by planning system, warn landowners image

Delays by local authority planning departments are viewed as a ‘barrier’ to economic growth and development in rural areas, survey reveals.

Published by the CLA, the survey of the group’s members found a third of respondents said the main barrier to their planning application being submitted was a delay by the local authority.

The survey also found another third said the local planning authority demanded irrelevant or unrealistic reports or surveys.

A membership organisation for owners of land, property and business in rural England and Wales, the CLA said the survey demonstrated that rural landowning businesses face ‘significant delays, additional costs and unrealistic demands from local authorities.’

Almost a quarter of those surveyed 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.

Around half of the survey respondents also said they found the quality and usefulness of pre-application advice to be ‘inconsistent’.

Rural businesses are 13% less likely to get planning approval for a business or residential development than the national average, said the CLA.

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.’

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