Union urges government to make planning system fit for modern agriculture

In its submission to the Scottish Government’s planning review, NFU Scotland has expressed the need for permitted development rights to be extended to larger farm sheds to reflect the needs of modern agricultural businesses.

The Union has outlined the key issues concerning Scotland’s planning system identified by its membership in response to the consultation this week.

As well as seeking an increase in the size allowed for agricultural sheds for permitted developments to reflect modern machinery sizes, NFU Scotland requests for permitted development rights to be extended to traditional farm steadings for conversion to residential and small business use. This could provide farmers with an additional income stream, whilst safeguarding rural heritage and play a valuable role in assisting towards the shortfall of housing in rural areas.

Jamie Smart, Legal and Technical Committee Chairman, stated: “The Union has extensively consulted with its membership on this matter, and it is clear that the current allowance of 465 sq. metres for farm sheds allowed under permitted development is no longer reflective of agricultural needs of today.

“We have asked Scottish Government to consider extending this to 1,000 sq. metres to help provide resilience to the farming sector, and to ensure the legislation is reflective of modern machinery sizes.

“Members also reported encountering issues with planning officers who have an urban focus and do not appear to understand agriculture. The continuing application of Section 75 occupancy restrictions on farmhouses has also been raised as an issue. Once these are in place they are very difficult to remove, and as properties tied by these cannot be borrowed against they can have a real effect on the farm businesses’ ability to raise finance.

“They can prove a substantial hurdle for farm succession too, precluding the younger generation from coming back to farms where there is limited accommodation.

“We have also raised the grey area of polytunnels in this consultation. NFU Scotland has been working with Scottish Government to try to protect its soft fruit growers from a requirement for full planning permission. This particular aspect is subject to the current review being carried out by Heads of Planning Scotland, and once they report back on their findings, the Union anticipates further discourse on this particular issue.”

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