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  6. Changes to farming planning regime mooted

Changes to farming planning regime mooted

Ministers are considering proposals to ease planning restrictions on some farming activities as part of a wide-ranging review of agricultural regulation and red-tape.

That’s in prospect following the report from the Farming Regulation Task Force report which has made 215 recommendations for changing or abolishing regulations affecting the farming and food industries.

The taskforce was set up by the Government and has just reported to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The report argued that “planning is a substantial barrier for development. It is vital that current regulations are changed to allow farm businesses to adapt, innovate and grow”.

It said: “The forthcoming National Planning Policy Framework must explicitly support sustainable and productive farming and must promote sustainable intensification.

“Current regulations on permitted development and the prior notification procedure should be amended so that thresholds for agricultural developments are increased. Polytunnels and other horticultural support structures should be added to the General Permitted Development Order, under specific conditions.”

The taskforce recommended that there should be a “presumption in favour of planning applications for seasonal workers’ accommodation in established horticultural businesses”.

This would mean allowing permitted development for buildings up to 465 square metres surface area and prior notification for buildings between this threshold and 1,500 square metres. The report also called for changes in the designation regimes for village greens and footpaths

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has welcomed some of the proposed changes such as finding a way to bring polytunnels into the planning system.

“But the potential effects of other proposals on establishing village greens and allowing other agricultural developments, including allowing permanent buildings for seasonal workers without proper planning controls are ill considered,” CPRE argued.

Defra is due publish an initial response to the report this autumn with a full and final response early in 2012.

Download the Farming Regulation Task Force report.

 

Roger Milne

19 May 2011