Our inquiry into the provision of affordable housing in rural areas found that in many cases planning policies and practice were seen as a major constraint to a speedy resolution of housing needs in the countryside.
Planning is also often cited by rural businesses as a barrier to economic development. We, therefore, welcome the Planning White Paper if it helps to overcome some of these difficulties and, especially, to pave the way for much needed affordable housing in England`s rural communities.
We also welcome the role it could play in further strengthening the important contribution which rural communities make to the national economy, not only in the land-based sector, but over a wide range of manufacturing and services, particularly tourism.
However, local people's voices must be properly heard within the new processes and the distinctive character of rural England must be respected and enhanced. Parish Plans and other community-led planning initiatives should be enhanced and supported to help make this happen.
Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Frameworks will continue to be the main vehicles for implementing planning policies and it is vital that they take full account of the needs and circumstances of rural communities and businesses.
Similarly, national planning policies must take account of rural issues and be properly coordinated. The new Independent Planning Commission should include rural expertise and knowledge on its board and must take the rural dimension into account before making decisions on major infrastructure projects
Read our response to the Barker Review of Land-Use Planning