Food and Drink Businesses


Food and drink manufacturing in the UK contributes more than 28 billion into the economy, and employs more than 4.3 million people. But fascinatingly, 96% of the UKs food and drink manufacturing businesses are SMEs – small and medium size enterprises. The rural sector, socially and economically is based on the backbone of British agriculture, so no one is better placed to take advantage of this natural fit, source of raw ingredients and inspiration to those of us living in the Countryside.

Food and drink service and retail is another important part of the rural economy, café’s, tea rooms, farm shops, ice cream parlours and so on, are all an important part of the economy. Many manufacturing businesses start small, working from home or renting small premises, but once they reach a certain size will almost definitely require specialist premises. Most food and drink retail and service industries are selling direct to the public, so in almost every scenario will require a specialist place of work, a shop, a place where people can park, sit down and so on.

Whilst most local authorities are in principle supportive of such businesses, existing and start up, they can create some planning issues, such as car parking, vehicular movements, noise to local area and so on. These impacts must be carefully balanced against the positives and presented in a ‘net gain’ way. Getting technical support for things like highways, noise and so on will be crucial so get your strategy aligned early on in the process.

Is planning permission required?

If you are changing the use of a building for manufacturing, this creates a bit of a grey area - because some products are still agricultural in nature so there may be no change of use, and no permission required. For other products once they are processed and in packaging, they are no longer agricultural and this will now be classed as commercial – most likely requiring planning consent for the change of use. Each process needs to be considered on its own merits so you should seek advice for your situation and prospect. Retail and service businesses will almost always need specific planning consent.

It is difficult to give blanket advice on this category of use – so get specialist advice from the outset.

View further information resources here

What is the process for this type of application?

Read about the planning process here

What are the main issues that need to be overcome?

Principle of the proposal – food and drink manufacturing, retail and service

We have to firstly make sure the Local Planning Authority are happy with the proposal in principle, asking the question - does the development meet local and national planning policy? As well as the principle, there are lots of other factors that come into planning for premises for manufacturing, or retail or service businesses.

  • Highways safety and impact
  • Impact on designations such as Green Belt AONBs
  • Noise
  • Neighbour amenity
  • Likelihood of flooding

Other factors have to be thought very carefully about:

  • Design
  • Materials
  • Scale
  • Use
  • Siting
  • Drainage

How The Rural Planning Co can help

We LOVE getting involved with exciting new equestrian projects like this, and helping you along the journey to bringing your personal aspirations or business plans and dreams to fruition. With many years specialising in this sector, we believe that engaging an experienced and proactive consultant can reduce the stress, time and cost of the process and above all gives you the best chance of success.

Read our pricing here

Read about the planning process here

Read ‘how we work’ here

Read about us here

Find case studies here

Here are some links to more business help on The Business Barn website.

Our other business Moule & Co specialises in rural professional consultancy and can help with grants and business plans.