Letter - planning system for the rural economy by Julian Sturdy MP

Dear Robert,

Re: Planning system for the rural economy – Rural Business APPG

Ahead of the publication of the Planning White Paper, we write to you as cross-party group of MPs and peers who share in the common belief of unlocking the huge potential of rural Britain. We would welcome the opportunity to meet you as a group to make sure the interests of rural communities are heard within this process.

The rural economy is 16% less productive than the national average. If we close that gap it could be worth up to £43bn for the economy in England alone. If we are to improve productivity, grow our economy and support our communities, then we must build a planning system that works for the countryside.
Rural areas are often wrongly perceived as being only focused on industries such as agriculture or hospitality, overlooking the emergence of tech, science and enterprise firms starting in countryside locations.

The Country Land and Business Association last month published a new paper entitled ‘Rural Powerhouse: a planning system designed for the rural economy’ which highlights simple changes to planning that could have immediate effects on boosting growth. These include recommendations to reduce the burdensome costs involved with planning applications which prevent businesses making applications, and extending the use of permission in principle. We encourage you to consider these recommendations.

As you will know, the COVID-19 lockdown, has made many people reevaluate their work/ life balance with many now seeking a life outside of the cities. In order to do so this will require measured and thoughtful development in villages across the nation and an update to sustainability assessments. These sustainability assessments are currently based on outdated metrics which do not take in consideration modern necessities such as connectivity, and condemn thousands of villages to no development.
You have made it clear during your tenure as Secretary of State, that you want to make the planning system easier and more accessible to those wishing to apply and develop their business or being able to find a home, and we share that ambition.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Julian Sturdy MP
Chair, Rural Business APPG

Richard Drax MP
Kevin Hollinrake MP
Simon Hoare MP
Pauline Latham MP
Iain Liddell-Grainger MP
Ann Marie Morris MP
Lord Cameron of Dillington
Lord Inglewood
Earl of Lytton
Lord Taylor of Holbeach
Lord Willoughby De Broke