Learn More

Planning report helps clear the way for homes for growers

Luke seeding

Growing more food for local people is a central pillar of Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority’s new management plan – and it’s why they’ve named us as one of their key delivery partners.

But over the past year, it’s become increasingly obvious to us that two things are getting in the way:

  • access to land
  • planning policy that prevents small-scale growers from establishing a home on their land.

We can help growers find land, and we’re working on that right now with various partners. But for the planning issue we needed a different approach. Being able to live in an affordable home on their land all year round is absolutely essential for modern commercial regenerative growers. It’s a demanding job, involving long days of mostly outdoor work in all weathers and plenty of office work too, juggling orders and deliveries, managing marketing and dealing with customers. Micro-managing crop protection, ventilation, pest control and watering is also crucial, especially during weather extremes, which are becoming more and more frequent. And expecting growers to commute just isn’t feasible, especially as security and vandalism are now very real issues.

So we commissioned planning expert James Shorten of Terra Perma Geo to delve into the problem and see how local authority planners could support small-farm housing within the framework of current policy and guidance. You can read his full report* here.

In essence, James argues the case for planners to take a fresh look at small-scale horticulture and revisit the prevailing view that growing fruit and veg is little more than a part-time hobby. He explains in detail why commercial small-scale growers meet both the functional need and full-time tests for Rural Enterprise Dwellings (REDs), and also looks at why the financial test unfairly discriminates against growers.

He also examines why One Planet Developments (OPDs) are not always the right solution for growers, and why it is it is unhelpful for RED practice guidance to assume this.

The good news is that BBNPA have been very supportive on this. In fact they invited James to present his case at a recent planning workshop, attended by planning officers from Powys and Monmouthshire County Councils, and members of the Our Food 1200 team. That workshop fed into James’s final report, and following on from this, the Park is now planning to commission new supplementary guidance around both REDs and OPDs. Watch this space!

*Funding for this project has been awarded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.  This support has been provided through the Co-operation and Supply Chain Development Scheme – CSCDS Innovative Approaches and Collaborative Growing.

Latest updates

Keep up to date with our latest news and updates

View all