Grant Shapps, the coalition’s Housing Minister, has dropped the threshold of agreement needed for his “Community Right to Build” scheme from 80-90% to 75%.
The scheme is part of David Cameron’s wider “Big Society” policy of placing responsibility for community decisions in the hands of local people. In measures announced in July of this year, Mr Shapps gave rural communities that want to build new homes the power to bypass the planning process. The ‘community right to build’, which will feature in the localism bill, will give community organisations the right to authorise developments of up to 20 homes without a specific planning application, as long as they receive overwhelming support in a local referendum.
Any surplus made by selling or renting homes to individuals and families would be put back into the community.
To begin with, the Housing Minister put the levels of support needed at 80-90% but has lowered the requirement to 75%, presumably having reflected on the difficulties of getting 80% of a local community to agree to anything. Are these measures going to provide house builders with a way to get planning approval “by the back door”? Will they now seek to form partnerships with key individuals in villages to get their plots built, without the pesky burden of needing a planning permission? Twenty units could certainly be enough of a lure for this to be attractive.
Will this have any impact and enables local small building schemes to go ahead more easily or whether nimby mentality will apply but potentially local solicitors will be able to more easily get involved with new development opportunities by helping developers within local communities.