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UK's planning system forcing most rural firms to 'abandon growth'

The UK's planning system has forced over 70% of farming and rural businesses to abandon growth, a new survey has warned.

According to results of a recent CLA survey, the vast majority of rural businesses say planning rules are preventing economic growth and costing many over £50,000.

The survey, which was responded to by 619 rural businesses, shows that almost three quarters (73%) have been forced to abandon plans to invest in their business due to "outdated and under-resourced planning procedures".

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority (93%) say that these rules are hampering economic growth in rural communities.

The findings suggest over a third of rural businesses have spent more than £20,000 before having to abandon projects due to planning system delays.

And for around 20%, the system has squandered more than £50,000, funds which the CLA said could have been used to strengthen the rural economy.

The statistics follow a another survey between the CLA and Historic Houses which found 87% of historic building owners see the UK's planning system for heritage as a major barrier to decarbonising.

Almost half of heritage owners (48%) said the current system was ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

Responding to the findings, CLA President Mark Tufnell said the severe cost inflicted on farmers needed to be the wake-up call

"What we need is a new system that supports sensible, small-scale developments," he said.

"It doesn’t matter if you’re Jeremy Clarkson, or from a farming family, all deserve a lifeline and a genuine chance to thrive."

Will Mathias, a CLA member who runs CGJ Mathias & Son Nurseries, a plant nursery based near Farnham, Surrey, wants to bring another 40 acres of arable land into nursery stock production and need a nursery manager’s dwelling on site.

"We received positive feedback from planning officers at both the pre-application and outline application stages, together with more than 30 letters of support from nearby residents," he said.

"But it was rejected by councillors who didn’t want to see new development and did not understand the nature of our rural business.

"We’re hoping to win the appeal, but it could take 18 months and set us back £15,000-£20,000.

"We really need to see more planning officers on the ground to help reduce delays, and councillors need a greater understanding of rural businesses and the rural economy."


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