Category Archives: rural-affairs

INDUSTRY COMMENT – CLA Priorities for General Election

By | government-legislation, planning, residential, rural business, rural economy, rural-affairs, rural-housing | No Comments

By James Podesta – Head of Planning

In May the CLA set out what it believes the priorities for the next government should be in the build up to the general election in June. In a very useful summary (CLA Priorities) they set out five priorities that they feel will help to shape the future of the rural economy and its communities. Read More

Comment on Government Response to the Rural Planning Review Call for Evidence

By | planning, rural economy, rural-affairs | One Comment

Along with the publication of the Government’s Planning White Paper earlier this week, their response to last year’s consultation process on rural planning was also published.

In a nutshell, key matters on rural issues include:-

  • Consulting on extension to agricultural permitted development rights
  • Consulting on allowing change of use of agricultural buildings of up to 750sgm (up to 5 new dwellings)
  • Will also be providing new guidance on farm shops (so they are not subject to unduly onerous conditions), polytunnels and on-farm reservoir development
  • Class Q permitted development rights will be increasing – threshold from 450sqm to 465 sqm to bring it in line with permitted development thresholds for agricultural development (assume this may be imminent and aside from the consultation process of bullet point 2).

James Podesta, Acting Head of Planning at Rural Solutions,  commented “Rural Solutions welcomes the publication of the Governments response to the Rural Planning Review Call for Evidence. We are encouraged that they are proposing further consultation on extending the thresholds for agricultural permitted development rights, and also seeking views on amending existing permitted development rights to support more flexibility. We are pleased to see that the Government has committed to make clear in guidance that planning conditions on farm shops should be reasonable and proportionate, and we are also optimistic that further consultation on new agricultural to residential use permitted development will see the threshold for conversion increased up to 750sqm (from 450sqm previously). We are, however, disappointed to note that the Government has not clearly addressed the issue of bringing agricultural buildings and farmyards within the definition of brownfield land, which we consider does not fit the Government’s objective to increase development on brownfield land. Rural Solutions will be responding to the consultation on this matter.”

Yorkshire Dales National Park Issues Article 4 Direction Withdrawing Permitted Development Rights

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Following the Government’s introduction in March 2016 of new permitted development rights to allow light industrial premises to be converted to one or more dwellinghouses without having to seek full planning permission, this right is due to come into force on 1st October this year.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park has expressed concern regarding the potential loss of important business premises without full planning scrutiny.  Concerns have been raised with regard to permanent loss of economic assets, a conflict with economic policy in the newly adopted Local Plan and the need for long-term consistency in the application of Park planning policy.

The Consultation Period is now open and any comments will need to be submitted by 5pm on Monday 27th February 2017.

If you are a landowner in the National Park and you feel that this Consultation is relevant to you, contact Rural Solutions for advice and guidance on your submission.

For further information on Article 4 see the YDNPA website here.

Visit the Farm Business Innovation Show in Birmingham

By | advisory, architecture, construction, consultancy, general, planning, rural business, rural economy, rural-affairs, rural-housing, rural-offices, rural-solutions-news | No Comments

Rural Solutions will be exhibiting and speaking at the Farm Business Innovation Show taking place at Birmingham NEC on Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10 November.

The show is free to enter and tickets can be ordered online from the Show website.

The Rural Solutions advisory, business development and planning teams will be at the show and they will be available to talk to you about your diversification ideas.  Willy Browne-Swinburne will also be speaking on Thursday morning about how you decide which diversification idea is the right one for you!

More information about the Show and free tickets can be found here

Rural Solutions runner up in Rural Business Awards

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Rural Solutions attended the dinner and awards ceremony last night for ‘The Rural Business Awards’ in partnership with CLA and are very proud to announce that we are runner up in the ‘2016 Best Rural Professional Services Business’ category.

The Awards co-founder, Jemma Clifford said “Rural Solutions was simply an excellent, successful business.  They demonstrated growth on profits, creation of jobs and associated employment in rural communities, all based on a sound knowledge of the key aspects of rural life.”

Congratulations to all our fellow finalists – it is wonderful to see so many successful rural businesses out there doing great things for the rural economy and raising the profile of the countryside.

How National Park boundary extensions could affect planning

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At the beginning of this month, almost 50,000 hectares of Cumbria and Lancashire were added to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Lake District National Park, transferring planning responsibilities from three second-tier councils to the parks’ authorities.

The move will offer enhanced protection for new park extension areas, and, as new environment secretary Andrea Leadsom remarked, will “virtually join” the two national parks, save for the corridor carrying the M6 Motorway that bisects them.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park has grown by around a quarter, with the addition of 41,700 hectares of land from Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council, and Lancaster City Council. The Lake District National Park, meanwhile, is now around three per cent bigger, gaining roughly 7,000 hectares from Eden and South Lakeland.

The change means that commercial and residential applications within the newly-expanded boundaries will face greater scrutiny. One immediate planning implication is the removal of permitted development rights, meaning that household extensions, proposals to convert farm buildings, warehouses or shops into new uses, and some categories of renewable energy development will now require full consent. Additionally, Planning Practice Guidance for national parks stipulates that “major development” may only be permitted in “exceptional circumstances”, although authorities can reach their own definition of major development.

Undetermined planning applications for the extension areas transferred to the relevant park authorities on 1 August, while an amendment order to the Environment Act 1995 last month gave a three-year window for already-granted permitted development applications to be delivered, and for appeals against refusals to be heard.

Perhaps the biggest headache for park authority planners is that neither national park has a local plan that covers its new territory. Both say they will use legacy documents from Eden, South Lakeland and Lancaster councils to determine applications in these areas until they have adopted plans.

Yorkshire Dales head of development management Richard Graham told Planning that working from a local plan reflecting “the old Yorkshire Dales”, as well as policies from three districts, would make things “particularly complicated” for his development management team. “We’ll be working from around 16 different planning documents to cover the different areas,” he said. “If one plan says something can’t be built on one side of the road, but another says it can go on the other, we’re going to have to explain those differences.”

Cumbria-based planning consultant Kate Bellwood said there would be uncertainty about what represented acceptable development until both authorities updated their local plans. She said the situation was particularly acute for barn conversions, which formed a significant source of income for the rural economy. “Eden has had a positive policy towards barn conversions, whereas the Yorkshire Dales tends to be much more restrictive, which begs the question of which policy will be applied in the Eden extension area,” she said.

Both national park authorities said that no planning staff would be transferring to them from Eden, South Lakeland or Lancaster City Councils to cope with the additional responsibilities, but the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said it may increase the size of its development management team.

Dorothy Fairburn, director for the north of England at the Country Land and Business Association, urged the national park authorities to look for “innovative” ways that redundant agricultural buildings could be redeveloped to both support new business and preserve the environment. “We want the national parks to push ahead with broadband and mobile phone communication improvements so that some of these barns can be used for IT businesses and other enterprises that don’t require huge premises,” she said. Fairburn added that national park status would inevitably mean that new development required more expensive materials and higher quality design, which could “prove too expensive” for some applicants.

Robert Hindle, director at the Rural Solutions consultancy, which represented a handful of landowners opposing the Yorkshire Dales extension, said the park authority had a reputation for making it “very difficult” to deliver small-scale open market housing development. He said that he hoped it would take a more flexible view on housing and on what qualified as “major development” in future to avoid discouraging investment.

Courtesy of Planning Resource

Rural Estates – Why Bother?

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Last night Rural Solutions ran a joint event with Withers and Harrison Rural with invited rural estate landowners to debate ‘Rural Estates – Why Bother?’

The traditional rural estate can, on the face of it, look increasingly outdated, difficult to manage, encumbered with emotional baggage and a ‘sitting duck’ for the taxman, so why do we bother?

The event, chaired by Heather Hancock, was kindly hosted by Withers at their Old Bailey offices and was very well attended with much thought provoking and stimulating debate from the panel and the audience.

If you are interested in learning more about the event, please email

By | architecture, construction, consultancy, general, government-legislation, green-energy, planning, project-management-2, recruitment, renewable-energy, rural business, rural economy, rural-affairs, rural-housing, rural-offices, rural-solutions-news | No Comments

Rural Solutions will be exhibiting at the Farm Business Innovation Show at the Birmingham NEC on 9 and 10 November – the leading diversification and innovation event for farmers and landowners. Come and visit our stand and click on the link above for your free entrance tickets!

Government Opens Rural Planning Review Call for Evidence

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A new Rural Planning Review will look to reduce regulatory burdens in support of new homes, jobs and innovation.

Rural entrepreneurs and housebuilders in England will have the opportunity to provide ideas on how the planning system can better support rural life, making it simpler for them to expand their businesses and to build much needed new homes.

The move comes as the government launches a planning review to reduce regulatory burdens in support of new homes, jobs and innovation. It will also review the rules for converting agricultural buildings to residential use, building on the success of the 2014 changes which have seen more than 2,000 agricultural buildings being allowed to be converted to much-needed homes.

The Rural Planning Review, jointly published by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is the latest milestone in the delivery of the Government’s Rural Productivity Plan, launched last summer by Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss.

The plan sets out new measures to boost the rural economy by investing in education and skills, improving infrastructure and connectivity, and simplifying planning laws for rural businesses and communities. Already the Government is delivering on these objectives, designed to drive up productivity and ensure the countryside becomes an ever more attractive place for people to live, work, start a business and bring up a family.

Planning was one of the priorities for rural action included in the government’s response to the Lord Cameron Review on Rural Proofing published in December, which sets out a series of measures to ensure government departments fully understand rural issues to better protect the services delivered for rural communities, as well as boosting productivity in the countryside. Defra and Cabinet Office have since agreed with Lord Cameron that the development of rural proofing guidance should be given priority.

All evidence and comments are to be submitted by 21 April 2016.

What Lakes and Dales national park expansions mean for planning

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Two national park authorities are gearing up to take control over planning in areas covered by new boundaries, but it is not yet clear how much government cash will be made available for the bodies’ extra responsibilities.

Lake District National Park: park will extend by just 3%
Lake District National Park: park will extend by just 3%
This gives both park authorities until next August to assume planning duties from several town halls. Both the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authorities will take on responsibilities for areas currently covered by South Lakeland District Council and Eden District Council. The Yorkshire Dales will also take on planning duties in areas covered by Lancaster City Council and Lancashire and Cumbria County Councils.Truss said future government funding decisions “will take account of the planning functions the national parks will inherit from the local authorities”. Peter Stockton, head of sustainable development at the Yorkshire Dales, said he sees this as a hint that it will receive extra money to manage the extended area. However, he said he also expects an overall funding reduction in this month’s spending review. “It’s a matter of how we resolve that internally,” he said. He added that “we’ll probably have some sort of reorganisation of our service”.

The Lake District authority’s head of development management David McGowan said it intends to pick up the extra work with existing staff. A lot of his authority’s relatively small extension “is open countryside with little in the way of population and not much development”, he explained.

The local authority that will hand over the biggest chunk of land is Eden District Council. But Gwyn Clark, its head of planning services, said the area represents just seven per cent of the applications it receives annually. “We get roughly 80 applications per year in the area that’s being taken over by the Yorkshire Dales and four to five for the Lake District,” he added.

As well as the other four affected local authorities, Eden will also have to pass on information on its development strategy. Stockton said the Yorkshire Dales, whose local plan does not currently apply to the extension area, will “be implementing the existing plans currently in place there”. He added that “perhaps eventually we’ll do a new local plan, but in the interim, we will implement the relevant bits of the Eden local plan and the other existing plans in those areas”. McGowan said the Lake District would do the same.

So what does the new national park designation mean for development? The most “topical” difference will concern permitted development rights that allow the conversion of agricultural buildings into certain other uses without the need for planning permission, said McGowan. One potential effect of last month’s announcement could be a “rush of people trying to convert their barns” while they can still use these rights, Stockton predicted.

Dorothy Fairburn, director for the north of England at the Country Land and Business Association, told Planning that the national parks’ exemption from the permitted development rights “makes it harder for people to either provide rural housing or rural jobs in national parks, and both of these are deeply needed in national parks”.

Overall, the national park planning regime is more restrictive, according to Tony Kernon, of Kernon Countryside Consulting. He pointed to paragraph 115 in the National Planning Policy Framework, which states that “great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in national parks, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty”. According to Fairburn, the added emphasis on landscape – and a stronger requirement on buildings to fit the local vernacular better – can make development more expensive.

The designation also means added bureaucracy, said Duncan Hartley, director of planning at Rural Solutions. The consultancy represented seven landowners opposing the Yorkshire Dales extension when it was first proposed three years ago. “One of the roles of national park authorities is to preserve the character and appearance of the area as well as the duty to mange the land to aid tourism and development,” Hartley said. But he added that “the perception among landowners is that the authorities put greater emphasis on the protection and less on their economic role”.