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RSA report backs call for rural strategy

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The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) Food, Farming and Countryside Commission made strong calls for a government rural strategy when it published its report Our Future In The Land this week.

The Commission’s brief was to produce a report which “offered a compelling, urgent but ultimately optimistic account of how we make our systems of food and farming and rural governance fit for the immense challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”  The report was produced by RSA Director Sue Pritchard (who is participating in the Strengthening rural communities workshop at NALC Annual Conference 2019) and her team of researchers and Sir Ian Cheshire and his team of commissioners.

The report recommended that (on neighbourhood planning) it would be better to lead a campaign that publicised and made the most of these existing planning powers (NALC has already called for neighbourhood planning to be strengthened). The report mentions Frome Town Council’s (former NALC Star Council of the Year winner) involvement in neighbourhood planning.  The Commission stated that Government should then fund housing associations to work with local authorities, including local (parish and town) councils, to deliver the homes that are needed.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) supports the RSA’s claim that the government should deliver beautiful, affordable and sustainable housing to tackle the rural housing crisis by launching a national initiative for parishes to locate small plots of land suitable for small-scale development, providing meaningful powers for local people over aesthetics and practical support to developers. We also agree that all four nations should promote integrated forms of sustainable development, like the One Planet Development scheme and agri-villages.  We also completely agree with the recommendation in the report that Government and planning authorities should consider bans, quotas or other restrictions on homes in new developments being built and bought up for reasons other than permanent residence.

Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC said: “NALC thoroughly welcomes and endorses all the main recommendations in this excellent report.  We support the notion of a land-use framework, investment in rural infrastructure, creation of rural jobs, meeting rural housing need and creating a National Nature Service to help combat climate change.  Local councils are totally supportive and are central to all of these ideas and we urge the Government to remember that when it frames its long-overdue rural strategy.”

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