Government Proposes more Planning Freedom for Farmers

Apex planning freedom for farmers

The recent UK Farm to Fork Summit addressed the barriers and challenges that face farmers and the rural economy…

Planning Freedom for Farmers

A number of lifelines are being offered to farmers and land managers, following the UK Farm to Fork Summit in May, with the government committing to offering ‘greater planning certainty and flexibility’ in a bid to create more support for the rural economy.

In a document listing outcomes after the event, which was held at 10 Downing Street, the government has pledged to support farming businesses by reviewing planning barriers that prevent farm diversification.

Farm Diversification Review

The review, which will include any required changes to permitted development, is set to take place later this year. The government plans to offer farmers more freedom in making use of existing agricultural buildings. Apex Planning Consultants is keen to see what changes are afoot. It has regularly helped its farmer clients to repurpose both traditional and more modern portal framed buildings over the years, ensuring new income streams and diversification via residential and commercial conversions, as well as those that help to directly strengthen the agricultural enterprise.

The document used, as an example, a scenario where farmers would be ‘free to convert their buildings to process foods to sell in farm shops, without a planning application to their local authority’ in a bid to diversify their income streams.

Boosting Exports & New Farming Schemes

As part of the consultation, it will launch a call for evidence on the best way to address the barriers that farmers and land managers encounter when trying to deliver projects that can improve sustainable food production, and support nature and biodiversity as well as supporting their businesses. This extended to the prospect of relaxing planning controls so that glasshouses can be erected more easily.

It added that the government will look at revising the national planning policy to ensure it ‘fully seizes all opportunities to support leveling up of economic opportunity across rural areas – specifically, making the approval of new controlled environment horticulture businesses a priority for councils’.

The document also stated that the government wanted to see more farmers investing in barn top solar (as well as the food sector utilising its vast warehouse rooftops in a similar way).

The planning support was part of a larger package of backing for farmers, which included a commitment to protect their interests in future trade deals, support to boost domestic fruit and veg production, and new investment in technologies.

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