Policy EMP4: Rural Economy

Open22 Jan, 2024, 10:00am - 4 Mar, 2024, 11:59pm

Policy EMP4:  Rural Economy

To support a prosperous rural economy, development proposals for economic uses in the countryside will be permitted where they:

  1. Support the sustainable growth and expansion of all types of business through the conversion of existing buildings and, where there are no suitable existing buildings, through the provision of well-designed new buildings;
  2. Support the development and diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural businesses including those important to the local rural economy such as equestrian and fishing;
  3. Where suitable opportunities exist, prioritise previously developed land and sites that are physically well-related to existing settlements;
  4. Are predicated on clean growth principles and meet the Plan’s climate change policies in order to support the council’s climate emergency declaration.
  5. Are for a use and at a scale that is appropriate to the site and its setting and avoid adverse impacts on the landscape, heritage, environment and biodiversity.
  6. The access to the site should be safe and development should not result in an adverse impact on the local highway network taking into account the type of traffic generated and the appropriateness of the rural roads and the impact on their character and appearance. Development proposals that result in an increase in HGVs on C and U class roads, or a significant increase in other traffic on C and U class roads will generally not be permitted.

The change of use or redevelopment of land and buildings in employment use (class E(g), B2 and B8) in non-isolated locations within the countryside for non employment uses will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that:

  1. The building is vacant and has been actively marketed for employment uses at a reasonable rate for at least 12 months (immediately prior to the submission of the application); and
  2. It can be demonstrated through a viability appraisal that the site cannot be viably regenerated / redeveloped for employment uses.

Alternatively, development proposals will be supported where it is demonstrated that the site is not appropriate for the continuation of its present or any employment use due to a significant detriment to the environment or amenity of the area.

8.21 The Local Plan recognises that the borough’s rural areas include a large number of smaller settlements which vary in size and function, in addition to a variety of rural enterprises. As such, the policy incorporates sufficient flexibility to support economic growth and the creation of rural jobs and prosperity that will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities and meet identified needs.
8.22 The rural parts of Basingstoke and Deane are home to a diverse range of land-based businesses ranging from traditional farming, forestry and food production. But rural Basingstoke and Deane also boasts a wealth of non-traditional rural businesses such as manufacturing, digital tech, creative industries or retail. Rural parts of the Borough also contribute significantly to the visitor economy. Preserving the character of the rural economy while supporting diversification and economic growth requires careful consideration.
8.23 The rural economy policy seeks to maintain and enhance prosperity of the rural area by recognising that the need for new jobs is not limited to the villages and towns, given the existing population within the rural parts of the borough. There are also existing businesses which may need to expand or relocate and these can be vital to local employment provision and local services in rural areas. By permitting small scale economic expansion, the council can promote sustainable rural areas.
8.24 The policy applies to use classes E(g)B2 and B8 proposals and other proposals for rural economic development. Such proposals will be supported where the use and scale of the development is appropriate to its location. This also applies to farm diversification schemes which can contribute a significant source of income for farmers, sustaining their main agricultural enterprise.
8.25 The redevelopment of previously developed land in the countryside for employment uses will generally be encouraged provided that the site is not of high environmental value and that the proposed use and scale of development is appropriate to the site’s context.
8.26 The policy seeks to provide balanced support for the rural economy, which includes the provision of well-designed new buildings. The reflects the diverse nature of the rural economy and the findings of the Economic Needs Assessment, which considers that the rural economy does have a role to play in supporting the borough’s economy as a whole. However, in recognition of the need to support sustainable development and protect the character of the countryside, the policy prioritises the re-use of existing buildings and previously developed land as much as possible wherever suitable opportunities exist.
8.27 In order to reflect the flexibility in national level policy the sequential test requirements will not be applied to applications for small scale rural offices or other small-scale rural development.
8.28 In recognition of the difficulty in providing sufficient employment land within the borough the policy also seeks to protect existing employment sites in rural areas. However, the test is less extensive than is the case for Policy EMP2, in recognition of the preference for focusing development within strategic employment areas and existing settlement policy boundaries as much as is possible. This requirement does not seek to protect employment sites in isolated locations, in recognition of the need to support sustainable patterns of development.
8.29 Development proposals for uses that require a need for the occupant to have on site accommodation (e.g. stables) will only be permitted where the residential accommodation is already provided.
8.30 Neighbourhood Plans in relation to rural parts of the borough provide an important opportunity for gaining a more local and nuanced understanding of local economic needs, which can then be supported in a contextual way which is sensitive to the nature of the local area.
Implementation and Monitoring

The policy will be implemented through:

  • The determination of planning applications
  • There are also likely to be some opportunities for neighbourhood plans to provide support for the rural economy.

The policy will be monitored through:

  • Recording and analysing applications for gains and losses of employment floorspace outside of settlement policy boundaries.
  • Recording the amount of floorspace completed outside of settlement policy boundaries, which will be analysed in relation to the land-use needs set out in the Economic Needs Assessment (2023).


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