With the loss of EU funding, the UK Government is seeking to fill the gap with an alternative national equivalent, which would perform a similar function as a financial mechanism to support development. Part 1, section 1 of the Bill highlights the intended purposes of the finical assistance and how the money should be spent. The uses of the money are to be directed towards:-
- Managing land or water in a way that protects or improves the environment;
- Supporting public access to and enjoyment of the countryside, farmland or woodland and better understanding of the environment;
- Managing land or water in a way that maintains, restores or enhances cultural heritage or natural heritage;
- Mitigating or adapting to climate change;
- Preventing, reducing or protecting from environmental hazards;
- Protecting or improving the health or welfare of livestock;
- Protecting or improving the health of plants; and
- For the purpose of starting, or improving the productivity of an agricultural, horticultural or forestry activity.
Impacts from leaving the EU upon the agricultural sector have been widely speculated within many articles from a number of organisations. A common theme, through the many comments, is that individuals and groups operating within the rural market (particularly small farms) will face challenging times ahead. The agenda of all enterprise should be to make a sustainable business model sufficiently robust to weather the potential ramifications of leaving the single market.
The effective management of land and assets will play a significant role in creating an economically sustainable rural economy. The new Bill effectively supports the diversification of rural areas for a range of activities by offering financial assistance.
Opportunities to Develop
National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2018 supports the development of a range of actives in rural areas. They fall under the criteria; diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural businesses and sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments which respect the character of the countryside (paragraph 83). To ensure that the rural economy is not adversely impacted, there now exists a need for Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to view developments which support the rural economy as essential.
Whilst it is not uncommon for determination periods to require extensions; it is important for planning officers in LPAs to understand the pressure on rural businesses. Rural businesses often operate on a seasonal basis and are restricted to different activities depending on the time of the year. Therefore, an approved planning application may not be commercially viable to construct until the following year as a consequence of its approval being substantially delayed. This issue raises a number of concerns, namely how planning departments are funded across the country and the resource available for LPAs to engage with applicants and determine planning applications in a worthwhile and timely manner.
Access to funding is often linked to narrow deadlines with specific criteria, such as an approved planning application for agricultural work. If missed this can adversely affect the viability of projects and in worst case scenarios incur significant cost to the developer. The ADAS planning team have recently been successful in gaining an approval for a development in Lancashire, an article on this will be released soon.
Despite referring to the developments for rural business as essential, proposals should be well supported with the right evidence submitted in planning applications from applicants and their appointed agents. Due to the risk Brexit places on rural businesses a sound business plan should be seen, particularly for major developments, as a pivotal supporting document. The business plan should include an evaluation of all the risks and proposed mitigation methods that seem reasonable to support the growth of any rural business. Without a credible business plan, there is a danger that applicants may not have considered the economic risks to their proposal and business which may risk undermining their application’s success for a positive decision in their favour.
At ADAS, our Planning and Agricultural teams are active in offering impartial objective advice to rural businesses and landowners about how best to utilise their assets to support their business plans. We have formed strategic partnerships with a number of industries including, energy generation, battery storage, luxury camping, HEMP production and architects all of whom are able to help you in achieving your plans to strengthen or diversify your portfolios. ADAS are also able to support farmers who are wishing to grow their agricultural activities and look at alternative methods of farming to complement their current operation.
If you are looking to explore alternative uses of your land then please get into contact with the planning team (Planning@adas.co.uk) who will be able to provide a free appraisal, looking at alternative uses and offer advice as to the best way to maximise the value of the land.
In addition to the services we offer to landowners, ADAS also performs a consultee advisory role to a number of local authorities. Within the service, we provide impartial expert comments on planning applications and advise local authorities what they should be looking for in applications related to agricultural activities. If you are a Council seeking assistance in assessing planning applications related to the agricultural sector please get in touch with Kenny Dhillon and Sean Smith for further information.
For further information about our bespoke services, please visit the ADAS website which details different ways we can be of assistance.