The Country Landowners Association has said the Government consultation on planning reforms was a “big step in the right direction” but it is “disappointed” certain areas of the countryside such as National Parks will miss out.

The organisation, which has consistently lobbied for deregulation in the planning system, said National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will not reap the many social and economic benefits that the reforms will provide.

CLA President Henry Robinson said: “We strongly support the principle of these proposals. The creation of new homes benefit those who live and work in the countryside. Allowing traditional farm buildings to be modified and reused will retain the heritage of these structures for further generations. This will encourage employment and the income generated will help land managers to look after and protect the natural environment.

“But it is a real shame that these benefits won’t apply in designated areas such as National Parks, where the need for new homes is critical and where many communities are already deemed to be “unsustainable” having lost vital services over the years due to the restriction on new housing and employment development.
“Businesses and communities in these areas unable to benefit from converting traditional farm buildings to houses are left at a competitive disadvantage. Many thousands of redundant but important heritage constructions without an economic use will be left to fall down. It would appear that the Government is keen to preserve much of our countryside in aspic, rather than deliver an enhanced and dynamic natural environment.

CLA Head of Planning Fenella Collins said: “Breathing new life into dilapidated traditional farm buildings by giving them a new use will ensure their long term future and underpin the sustainability of rural communities and the businesses within them by providing critically needed new housing.

“The whole countryside should be able to benefit from the reinvigoration of rural heritage and better protection of the natural environment.”