Monthly Archives: December 2011

Should the Government heed MPs advice and make significant changes to draft Planning Policy?

By | general, government-legislation, planning, rural-affairs | No Comments

Earlier this week a Communities and Local Government select committee published its own review of the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  The NPPF will steer local government planning policy for years to come and would reduce guidance from the current 1,000 pages to just 50.

 The national media has highlighted one key issue in the select committee response – the draft NPPF gives the impression that greater emphasis should be given in planning decisions to economic growth. This serves to undermine the importance of environmental and social elements of the planning system.

 Some of the suggestions in the MP’s select committee response include:

 ·         A default answer of ‘yes’ to development which brings economic growth should be removed and the decision making process rebalanced between applying environmental and social considerations;

·         A need for expanding and strengthening the definition of sustainable development – and the committee offers a more inclusive definition;

·         The NPPF must unambiguously reflect the supremacy of Local Plans – so that planning decisions are to be taken within the presumption in favour of sustainable development consistent with the Local Plan    

 Duncan Hartley, Director at Rural Solutions Planning (and former Chief Planning Officer in the public sector), states:

 ““The absolute importance of the Local Plan is the key issue raised by the MP select committee. Without an adopted Local Plan the planning system can come into disrepute. The NPPF should set the right tone, the need to balance economic, social and environmental considerations,  for the detailed decision making tool that is the Local Plan.

Recently some policy advisors have emphasised the issue of localism without fully recognising that we have long had a legislated system for the delivery of local decision making – the Local Plan.  The immediate need is for local government to resource and deliver adopted Local Plans. It is essential that these plans are kept up to date to mitigate the doom laden predictions to our green and pleasant land by some policy protagonists.”

For planning enquiries please contact Rural Solutions Director of Planning Duncan Hartley on 0845 026 7914 or at

Rural Solutions recommend using the pre-application advisory process to substantiate the case for rural development

By | consultancy, general, government-legislation | No Comments

Even though the anticipated ‘presumption in favour of sustainable economic development in the countryside’ has yet to be cemented formally by the adoption of the National Planning Policy Framework, Rural Solutions has started to see the trickle down effects of the revised policy framework coming into play with some local planning authorities.

In 2008 a diversification proposal to convert a range of farm buildings into high quality office accommodation was refused even when the site had all the commercial and accessibility benefits of being only three miles south of a major regional city.

The reason for the refusal principally related to the perceived question of demand for office accommodation in such an open countryside location and therefore the scale of the development proposed being potentially excessive at approximately 12,000 square foot of proposed new offices.

Since 2008 the Economic Development team within the local authority has become an additional consultee in the planning application process meaning that a position of strong support within the Council has been achieved by Rural Solutions through meeting specifically with the Economic Development officers, as well as the Parish Council and the planning department through the formal pre-application advisory process.

Such an approach, importantly, gives the applicant more confidence in making a considerable financial investment in such redundant assets by committing to making a full planning application, which in turn gives the countryside a better chance of remaining economically viable and relevant.

Landowners with redundant assets would be well advised to target this changing attitude to commercial development in the countryside in 2012 and use the pre-application advisory process, now offered by most local authorities, to engage, build relationships and substantiate the case for development.

For further information on using the pre-application advisory process please contact Ralph Foljambe, head of advisory at Rural Solutions on 0845 302 4767 or via



Rural Solutions welcomes Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

By | general | No Comments

Rural Solutions welcomes the Chancellor’s announcement, in his Autumn Statement, that the government will consult on proposals to allow existing agricultural buildings to be used for other business purposes such as offices, leisure and retail space, to make it easier for rural businesses to find the premises they need to expand. 

We believe that provided appropriate checks are put in place, the change of use of redundant buildings in the countryside could stimulate rural economic development. An unintended consequence of any relaxation in the future use of redundant buildings in the countryside may be that Local Authorities scrutinise future applications for new agricultural buildings more closely to prevent individuals erecting buildings with the sole purpose of securing an alternative future use.

For planning guidance on the re-use of redundant rural buildings – please contact Rural Solutions Head of Planning Duncan Hartley on 0845 026 7914 or at

Two planning applications submitted for wind turbines in North Yorkshire

By | general, planning | No Comments

Rural Solutions has recently submitted two planning applications for wind turbines in North Yorkshire, both within Green Belt and one in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Planning team has significant experience of promoting wind energy developments – this includes production of a Planning Statement which helped to secure consent  for four 132 metre wind turbines near Northallerton and securing consent for numerous small-scale wind turbines.

Please contact Duncan Hartley,  Head of Planning at Rural Solutions or call the office on 0845 026 7914 for planning advice.