28 January 2000
Planning rules stifle diversification
By John Burns and Isabel Davies
A DEVON farmer must appeal to the government to have a local planning rule overturned because it is hampering his attempts to diversify.
David Disney, of Sampford Peverell, has had two planning applications rejected – despite the governments policy of encouraging diversification.
Mr Disneys troubles began when he was forced out of pig production 18 months ago by the crisis in farming.
It was a bitter blow to his farm which was seriously fragmented by the construction some years ago of junction 27 of the M5.
Instead of giving up, Mr Disney applied for planning permission to convert his traditional livestock buildings into offices.
A nearby company also approached Mr Disney and expressed an interest in using the site for a fireworks factory.
But Mid Devon District Council planners rejected the idea.
Mr Disney was told they could not approve the proposal because development was not allowed at the motorway junction.
The government is the only body which can overturn the decision.
The Country Landowners Association believe many hard-pressed farmers would benefit from fewer planning regulations in the countryside.
Alan Buckwell, CLA director of policy, said farmers must be able to use farm buildings for other forms of rural businesses.
“We are not talking about extensive new development, but about a gradual economic evolution which will help to guarantee the future of the countryside.”
But the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), a national charity which is backed by an influential office in Westminster, opposes the idea.
The CPRE has launched a rural charter which argues that planning protection is part of the solution to rural ills.
Tony Burton, CPRE assistant director, said: “Far from the need to relax planning safeguards, we should extend their scope.”