New planning rules to boost affordable rural housing

MAJOR changes in rural planning guidelines aimed at freeing up the provision of affordable housing and allowing on-farm second homes for farmer retirements are being introduced across Wales.

With immediate effect, a new Welsh Assembly TAN 6 planning edict for local authority and national park planning officials is seen as a major breakthrough in removing controversial inconsistencies between different planning departments.

Other key elements allow for the provision of additional housing for farm workers where a need can be established and greater, and greater flexibility on approving farm diversification ventures.

Launching the revised code - unique to Wales - at the Royal Welsh Show today (Tuesday, July 20), Welsh Assembly Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, said it will make it easier for businesses to set up in rural areas and should help enterprises already located in the countryside to grow - relaxing control over development in the countryside while still ensuring that a measured approach is taken.

She said another benefit of the guidance is that it will make it easier for farmers to build a new home on their land so they can pass their business on to a younger person, while continuing to live on the farm.

Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, said that retaining young people and skilled workers were two of the biggest challenges for rural communities, and the launch of TAN6 would go a long way towards addressing those issues, especially within the farming community.

“The farming sector needs to be a viable and attractive option to young, skilled people and this new planning guidance will definitely help in realising this vision.”

NFU Cymru, welcoming the changes, called on local authorities throughout Wales to act swiftly and implement changes to their planning policies.

“It is imperative the next generation is given the opportunity to work on farms and develop their skills as they build their careers in food and farming,” said Bernard Llewellyn, the union’s rural affairs board chairman.

Farmers Union of Wales land use chairman, Richard Vaughan, said it was to be hoped the changes would help farmers diversify and encourage the retention of young people in the countryside.

CLA Wales has welcomed the Welsh Assembly Government’s announcement on planning guidance designed to boost the rural economy and increase the provision of affordable housing.

CLA president, William Worsley, who farms in Yorkshire and was visiting the show described the new planning guidance as “really very exciting”

“So often Wales is in advance of England and very often from the English perspective we look jealously across the Border because the rural understanding in Wales is far greater than so often is the case in England.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • Do the ordinary folk who make up the vast majority of the rural population also benefit from these "Major changes"? Or is it just the farmers once again?

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  • Would these 'majority' be the retired incomers who don't contribute anything to the industry of the rural area and just moan NIMBY when anyone wants to do anything?

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  • Is it not time that England followed suit, as a young farmer, we need opportunity to develop our businesses but this also includes the provision of quality, affordable rural housing, and a planning system that is flexible and promotes it.

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