Rural planning permission is totally broken
The main problem is that the planning system does not really distinguish green belt land - patches of fields bordering directly onto large towns - and the deeper countryside far away from any large towns or cities.
Contrary to popular misconception, the UK is not short of countryside, as anyone who has looked out of an aeroplane window on a cloudless day can confirm. Whilst green belt regulations are important in preventing urban sprawl, applying those same regulations to places which don't have any "urban" let alone any "sprawl" - say, Shropshire, Herefordshire or Gloucestershire - is a fundamentally flawed idea.
In Gloucestershire we have now got to the astoundingly stupid position whereby remote village primary schools - state schools - are taking out adverts in local rags to attract pupils, in order to prevent their numbers falling so low that they will close. They're asking parents in towns to drive their kids out to their remote primary school where they can enjoy "pupil to teacher ratios as low as 6 to 1" (this is Withington Primary). How has this come about? Because planning regulations and NIMBYs have prevented the building of new family homes or the conversion of other buildings into family homes. Because offices can't get decent cheap broadband so there are no office jobs for prospective parents. Because small factories have been told they can't move heavy lorries down those roads anymore so the factory relocates, and the families with it.
After living all 38 years of my life in the countryside, I finally gave up last January and moved to a suburban new development on the outskirts of a local town. My wife and I decided to have "just one more" child, it turned out to be twins, and that was it... we ran out of bedrooms. The price difference between 3 bedrooms and 4 bedrooms in our Gloucestershire village was 150k. That's insane. So the school lost another of its dwindling number of pupils, the playgroup lost not one but two prospective recruits, the pub, post office, garage, bus and village shop lost a whole family of customers. Our house was bought by some rich old lady. Can't imagine she'll make much use of the school, or the pub, or the garage... maybe she might use the bus, once a week. Oh wait, they cancelled the bus route already.
We are strangling our countryside to death.
And me? I now live in a massive Bovis box. It's got all the character of a concrete slab but it's big enough for everyone to have their own room. Plus the broadband is so fast I could actually run my own business from home. Mind you, I'm rather enjoying the shorter commute to work, especially as I can listen to streaming audio on my 3G phone as the frequent bus service shuttles me back and forth to the town centre.