New report sets out blueprint for the Welsh countryside

March 2024 | Featured, Rural policy

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The Senedd Cross Party Group (CPG) for Rural Growth’s report, ‘Generating Growth in the Rural Economy: an inquiry into rural productivity in Wales’, has made a series of recommendations across infrastructure and connectivity; housing and planning; tourism; and food and farming which, if implemented, could unleash the potential of Wales’ rural economy.

The report sets out a total of 19 recommendations which would ‘help the Welsh Government address this divide’, and match the ambition of its rural communities.

Key asks and solutions developed by the group include:

  • The re-establishment of a Rural Development Board (RDB) in conjunction with key stakeholders, to act as a focal point for facilitating rural growth, sensitive to sub-regional zones.
  • The RDB to set out a definitive rural development strategy, setting objectives for infrastructure development, connectivity and rural skills and have the powers and resources to deliver it.
  • A raft of measures to enable the planning consent system to become an enabler for responsible growth: reviewed local authority local development plans (LDPs), more planning officers to accelerate and improve the planning process, and the introduction of the positive approach of Planning in Principle to enable investment to be made and development to take place.
  • Urgency in adopting the actions stemming from the Relieving pressures on SACs river catchments to support delivery of affordable housing programme led by the First Minister.
  • Measures to revitalise the rural tourism industry: Visit Wales to become an arms-length body with resources comparable to equivalents in other parts of the UK, the body should include representatives from the sector. Impact assessments must be undertaken of recent fiscal initiatives and appropriate exemptions should be made to the 182-day threshold for business tax on tourist accommodation.
  • A review of the terms – and clarity of the funding rates – within the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) to ensure it can continue to support this fundamental pillar of the rural economy is truly sustainable. The recommendation includes a demand for greater flexibility on the proposals to commit farms to 10% cover of trees and habitats.

To read the report visit: Generating Growth in the Rural Economy: an inquiry into rural productivity in Wales.

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