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Rural economy

Find out about our new Rural Economic Strategy, aiming to further help our borough's thriving rural economy.

Because it is located in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the local rural economy offers unrivalled opportunities to grow strong and sustainable businesses that can also enhance employees' health and wellbeing and improve their quality of life.

New Rural Economic Strategy

Please see our new icon Rural Economic Strategy. [6.71Mb]

Approved by Councillors on 9 May 2017, full publication of the Strategy was postponed to enable details of the new Government's Ministerial Team and Manifesto pledges to be included. Michael Gove, MP for Surrey Heath, returned to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Environment.

Coming in the wake of the 2016 Referendum decision to leave the European Union (Brexit), an earlier-than-expected General Election has enabled us to align our five-year Strategy with the Government's own programme, assuming a full five-year Parliamentary term.

After completion of the Brexit negotiations in 2019, there will be greater certainty for the rural economy about the transitional arrangements that will replace the Common Agricultural Policy and other EU subsidies that will end with the UK's departure.

Strategy's aims

Against that political background, our Rural Economic Strategy has been designed to maintain, develop and preserve the Surrey countryside as the working landscape it has been throughout human history.

Reflecting the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (Defra) catchment-based approach, our strategy for the Wey Valley has been produced in partnership with Waverley Borough Council upstream and Woking Borough Council downstream.

We are also working closely with parish councils, rural community groups, landowners and others to develop a sustainable twenty-first century vision, bringing innovation and opportunity to established working villages.

Strategic partners with whom we expect to work closely in future are the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and National Farmers Union (NFU), among others.

Five core policies

Our Strategy's five core policies are:

  • Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities

  • Infrastructure for Enterprise

  • Landscape Management and Countryside Vision

  • Green Space, Health and Wellbeing for Better Quality of Life

  • Energy Policy, Generation and Supply.

Overseen by Guildford Business Forum's Rural Group, the Strategy's Action and Delivery Plan covers key economic drivers such as access, broadband, diversification, grant funding, infrastructure, planning, productivity and skills.

Speaking at a Rural Services Network Conference held in September 2016 on the post-Brexit future of rural communities, Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics said: "Unless the rural voice is strong, it won't be heard". Through our many partnership links across the private, public and third sectors, this new Rural Economic Strategy offers a great opportunity to provide that strong rural voice.