Landlords could find it easier to serve farm tenants with notices to quit under new planning rules, the Tenants Farmers Association (TFA) has warned.
Under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), due to be announced on Tuesday (27 March), landlords could obtain planning consent for change of use more easily, without adequate restrictions.
“We could see an increase in the number of cases in which tenants face notices to quit without sufficient, alternative provision being provided,” warned TFA chief executive, George Dunn.
Therefore, the TFA is urging the government to ensure it retains an appropriate check on developments involving change of use promoted by landowners where the land that is subject to the application for consent is currently being used by a tenant farmer.
“If the impact on the personal circumstances of the tenant farmer has not been taken into account then planning consent for change of use should not be granted,” said Mr Dunn.
“In every case, the occupier should be notified of the planning application and the personal circumstances of the tenant should be considered in the administration of planning control.”
Mr Dunn said the TFA recognised the need to ensure that the rural economy could contribute to much-needed growth in the wider economy, but this “must not be at the expense of the livelihoods of tenant farmers”.
The government said changes to the national planning policy network are needed to cut unnecessary red tape. Last summer, ministers revealed more than 1,000 pages of policy had been cut down to a 50-page NPPF.
But the plans focus on a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”, which green campaigners fear could lead to more homes being built on green belt land.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is concerned that the new policy framework could promote a “free for all” for property developers to build on green belt land.
Instead, the CPRE is calling for previously developed land to be used for development, where available and suitable, before green belt sites.
“Evidence shows there is sufficient suitable brownfield land for 1.5m new homes,” said a CPRE spokesman.
“The NPPF should also promote the benefits of ‘smart growth’ to make more efficient use of land, reduce the need to travel, promote a sense of community and make local services more viable.”
The CPRE also fears that the new policy framework will not deliver enough affordable homes.
The Countryside Alliance said local people in the countryside needed affordable housing to help rural businesses to expand.