Housing Minister Grant Shapps has called on Lancashire communities to start laying the foundations for the future developments they would like to see in their area, from new cop-operative housing schemes to local shops.
Mr Shapps said that communities across the region should start looking at the opportunities that the new Community Right to Build proposals could offer, which is currently before Parliament.
The government hopes the new Community Right to Build, seen as part of its much-touted Localism initiative, will shift power from Government and councils to neighbourhoods and allow people to deliver the homes and development.
New powers will mean that community organisations would be able to take forward new local developments without the need to go through the normal planning application process, as long as the proposals meet certain criteria and there is community backing in a local referendum. Projects with the support of more than 50 per cent of those that vote in a referendum will get the go-ahead.
Urban areas should look to making use of the powers, Shapps urged – after extending the scheme previously restricted to rural areas only – so that all communities across the country benefit from the new homes, shops and facilities they really want.
To kick off the discussions within communities, the government has published a new guide that gives people an idea about what the new powers could mean for their area (PDF) and encourages them to think about the sort of community-led development they want to see.
The government argues the plans will give communities the power to decide how to meet the local priorities in their area. For example additional housing to meet the demand of future generations, new shops where communities want to offer low rent deals to local convenience stores or farm shops, or a new community hall or sports facilities.
“I want communities of all shapes and sizes, living in the smallest of villages and the largest of cities, to have the chance to drive forward their own plans for the future of their neighbourhoods without being hindered by bureaucracy and red tape," enthuses
the Housing Minister.
“The Community Right to Build currently before Parliament would do just that, giving local people the chance to give the go-ahead to new, small-scale developments that meet certain criteria and also, crucially, the test of public opinion.
“I would urge anyone wanting to shape the future of their local area and get the homes they want built to look at today’s guide. Whether these communities are living in an urban area or a countryside setting, it should give them the pointers they need so they can lay the foundations for making their housebuilding dreams a reality.”
The Localism Bill involves a planning reform package which includes the abolition of regional strategies; a duty on local councils to co-operate; the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy and local plan-making reform including the new neighbourhood planning regime. Also in the legislation are measures about pre-application consultation and enforcement.
• The e-leaflet, ‘The Community Right to Build: An Opportunity in the Making’, is published today and can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/righttobuild.
• Community Land Trusts Network: www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk
• Locality: www.locality.org.uk
• UK Cohousing Network: www.cohousing.org.uk (external link)
• Action with Communities in Rural England: www.acre.org.uk/our-work/community-led-planning
• Confederation of Co-operative Housing: www.cch.coop
• For more details on the Localism Bill you can visit the UK Parliament website at http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/localism/documents.html