Rural economy may suffer under Neighbourhood Planning Bill, according to CLA

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has called on the government to make changes to the proposed planning and compulsory purchase system to ensure the rural economy isn’t adversely affected.

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill underwent its Second Reading last month, but the CLA has said that the legislation had the potential to impose unnecessary costs on those looking to diversify their rural business and would place more power into the hands of those seeking land under a compulsory purchase order.

CLA President Ross Murray said: “The Bill is a welcome opportunity to reform both the planning and compulsory purchase systems to ensure that farmers and landowners have the best opportunity to help the rural economy thrive and grow.

“However, without changes the Bill will add unnecessary costs to planning applications and fail to address the imbalance of compulsory purchase in favour of acquiring authorities.

“We want to see changes which make it easier to deliver important development in rural areas and ensure those losing land temporarily for infrastructure projects have the same rights to payment as those losing land permanently.”

In its letter to the government the CLA advocates the following changes to the Bill:

  • Ensure Government makes it possible to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate only in relation to pre-commencement conditions. These are planning conditions which prevent any development with planning permission from taking place until detailed aspects of the development have been approved and the condition has been fulfilled by the applicant. Currently, if a farmer or landowner disagrees with a pre-commencement condition imposed by the local authority the appeal can lead to the entire application being re-examined.
  • Force acquiring authorities to be clear at the outset that they only acquire the minimum amount of land required land to deliver a project and whether this land is required temporarily or permanently.
  • Guarantee that farmers and landowners are able to seek compensation if the land they lose via compulsory purchase is then used for a different purpose at a later date.