Bureaucracy and red tape are proving a barrier to farmers looking to explore diversification opportunities for their businesses.

Chartered Surveyors Madeleys have called for more 'common sense' in the planning process, if rural businesses are to be able to explore new opportunities to safeguard their future post-EU subsidies.

This message comes as UK housing secretary Robert Jenrick MP backs a report from think tank Policy Exchange calling for reform in the planning system and what he calls an 'overly bureaucratic planning process'.

His comments follow ongoing promises to 'radically reform' the planning system, with extensions to permitted development rights and new zoning-style permission in principle, which could significantly reduce councils’ influence on the process.

“I would be in support of some change to the planning process,” said Paul Madeley of Madeleys Chartered Surveyors. “Some of the decisions being made up and down the country are extremely frustrating. It seems that as soon as there is any objection from a consultee, then it is likely an application would get refused.

“I’m not saying it should be a free-for-all, of course, there has to be protection of our habitat and environment, but there also has to be some common sense.”

As the Agriculture Bill progresses through the Commons and revolutionises the future of farm support, Mr Madeley said it is vital that rural businesses are not hamstrung if they want to diversify some of their land or buildings in order to keep a sustainable business for the future post-EU subsidies.

“You just get the feeling that the system is looking for grounds to refuse, rather than the other way around,” he stressed. “If you are converting old farm buildings into residential, then surely that has to be better than developing whole new homes on untouched land? These buildings are already there, they just need the work to be given the nod. So many farmers are giving up on this kind of thing because they get so frustrated by delays and red tape in the planning process,” he concluded.