Small farmers and landowners must be better recognised for their role in the planning system if the Scottish Government is to meet its ‘ambitious housing targets’.
Feeding into the Scottish Government’s planning consultation, rural organisations called for more incentives for farmers to fulfil government targets of building 50,000 affordable new homes by the end of this Parliament.
As well as seeking an increase in the size allowed for agricultural sheds for permitted developments to reflect modern machinery sizes, NFU Scotland called for permitted development rights to be extended to traditional farmsteads for conversion to residential and small business use.
Jamie Smart, NFUS legal and technical committee chairman, said the change could provide farmers with an additional income stream and help tackle the rural housing crisis.
He said: “The union has extensively consulted with its membership on this matter and it is clear the current allowance of 465sq.m for farm sheds allowed under permitted development is no longer reflective of today’s agricultural needs.
“We have asked the Scottish Government to consider extending this to 1,000sq.m to help provide resilience to the farming sector and to ensure the legislation is reflective of modern machinery sizes.”
Mr Smart also expressed his disappointment with planning officers who have an ‘urban focus’ and ‘do not appear to understand agriculture’.
Gavin Mowat, policy officer at Scottish Land and Estates, supported this call, and said members often found issues with the planning system being ‘unresponsive to the needs to land-based businesses’ and councils with a more urban-focus did ‘not have sufficient expertise’.
He said: “We are slightly concerned a lack of detail regarding the overall future of Scottish planning may lead to a situation where we are left with more questions than solutions following the review process.
“We believe greater importance needs to be placed on rural development and we have called for greater flexibility for the countryside.”