On 16 May, the Prime Minister met representatives from across the UK supply chain for a summit discussing how government and industry can work together to support a thriving UK food industry – the ‘Farm to Fork’ Summit.
It has been billed as being the next step in growing a thriving British food and drink sector, with the government setting out eight ways it intends to achieve this.
Eighth on the list being an exercise in cutting planning red tape to provide more certainty and flexibility to support the rural economy.
Whilst we don’t yet have any details, the pledge is to review planning barriers to farm diversification, somewhat inevitably starting with possible changes to permitted development rights later this year to allow farmers greater freedom in how they use their buildings.
In theory this makes a lot of sense but in practice so often permitted development rights do not make for an easier, more streamlined way of navigating the planning system, especially if they are subject to the notoriously frustrating prior approval procedures.
The government also intends to revise national planning policy to better promote economic opportunity across rural areas. It specifically mentions including policies to make the approval of new controlled environment horticulture businesses a priority for councils.
The consultation, when it happens, will make for interesting reading and it is important that people from across the sector respond with thoughts about how the proposals might practically work.
We await this consultation with interest and will be sure to make our views known when the time comes.