Giving evidence to the House of Commons Growth and Infrastructure Bill Committee, Country Land & Business Association (CLA) president Harry Cotterell has called for a less costly and bureaucratic planning system to encourage rural growth.
Explaining how the complexity of the planning sytem puts off small businesses in particular from applying, he said: "A lot of the information is not really necessary for a very small development or small proposal. There are CLA members who live on the top of a hill who have required flood risk assessments, which is plainly ridiculous but very rarely costs less than £1,000."
In this, he welcomed the Bill's amendment to reduce the amount of information required to bring developments forward, and added: "The National Planning Policy Framework will greatly improve the planning environment for small rural businesses and we are very much in favour of the presumption for sustainable development."
The CLA has also welcomed the Government's confirmation of new permitted development rights for non-contentious conversion of agricultural buildings. Cotterell said this recognised that a lot of development in rural areas is "virtually of no significance to the wider population, beyond what is going on in a farmyard".
At a debate during last week's Fruit Focus trade show in Kent, senior industry figures painted a bleak picture of an increasingly difficult seasonal labour market that is already impacting on investment.