“Outdated” planning rules are hampering economic growth in rural communities, according to the results of a Country Land and Business Association (CLA) survey.

The survey, the findings of which were published today (Monday, March 27), asked 619 rural businesses about the impacts of planning costs and rules.

Over one third (33.6%) of those surveyed said they had been forced to abandon plans to develop their business after already spending more than £20,000 due to planning system delays.

93% said the rules are hampering economic growth in rural communities.

President of the association, Mark Tufnell, said the countryside is treated like “a museum, like it’s something to be looked at, not touched”, but that this cannot continue.

“Because it’s a home to communities and businesses that need to grow after decades of economic neglect,” he said.

“The government has been asleep while this outdated planning system has been stunting growth and wrecking livelihoods, and the severe cost it’s inflicting on farmers needs to be the wake-up call.”

The CLA said that Jeremy Clarkson’s show – Clarkson’s Farm – has showed millions that planning rules can frustrate enterprise.

“What we need is a new system that supports sensible, small-scale developments. It doesn’t matter if you’re Jeremy Clarkson, or from a farming family, all deserve a lifeline and a genuine chance to thrive,” Tufnell said.

Will Mathias who runs CGJ Mathias & Son Nurseries, a plant nursery near Farnham, Surrey, said: “We’re looking to bring another 40ac of arable land into nursery stock production and need a nursery manager’s dwelling on site.

“We received positive feedback from planning officers at both the pre-application and outline application stages, together with more than 30 letters of support from nearby residents.

“But it was rejected by councillors who didn’t want to see new development and did not understand the nature of our rural business.”

Mathias said the company is hoping to win the appeal, but that it could take up to 18 months and cost between £15,000 and £20,000.

“We really need to see more planning officers on the ground to help reduce delays, and councillors need a greater understanding of rural businesses and the rural economy,” he said.