Rory Stewart MP is signposting constituency businesses to a package of measures to assist rural entrepreneurs in the county, following Cumbria Rural Growth Network’s recent launch of a free planning advisory service. The new service forms just part of a comprehensive range of new business support initiatives targeted at boosting economic performance in the county.

Rory Stewart said: “I’d love to make all businesses in the constituency aware of this free service, available to farms and retailers and everything in between, which will be delivered by Rural Futures (North West) Ltd.. It is so important for businesses wishing to grow, or wishing to gain a foothold in the local economy, to benefit from sound planning advice, yet this can so often be very costly. This new service will help ensure that planning need not be an obstacle to business development, and also ensure that businesses are kept abreast of changes in the planning system.”

John Welbank, the managing director of Rural Futures (North West) explained that “Planning can still be a major obstacle for business development in rural areas so early advice can be the key to success. The new, free service will be able to assist businesses develop high quality planning submissions that understand the planning constraints within the county. The planning system is changing rapidly so it is vital that businesses are aware of what will and won’t be supported.

In certain situations full planning consent may not even be required. Recent government announcements on permitted development rights will make a significant difference to new business development projects, especially those associated with redundant farm buildings. Even within the National Park it may now be possible to change the use of buildings without the need for a full planning submission. These changes are very new and it is vital that applicants get the right advice from the outset. It is clear that the government is serious about opening up economic opportunities in rural areas. The new service is here to assist this process.”

The programme is funded through both European (ERDF) and UK sources, and forms just one part of a group of business support measures that fall under the Cumbria Business Growth Hub and Rural Growth Network.

Businesses can contact Rural Futures directly on 01524 736845 or
through the Growth Hub web portal at

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