Community Right to Build
The Community Right to Build is part of the Government's drive to create the ‘Big Society' and was outlined in the Localism Bill in December 2010.
Under this right, communities will be given the power to develop and approve the building of homes and other community space as long as it achieves 90% support in a local referendum. The benefit of development is intended to be retained by the community, for the community, through a ‘streamlined, light- touch neighbourhood planning process'.
The Community Right to Build is one of three new community rights proposed in the Localism Bill and relates particularly to the reform of the planning system. It is intended to enable groups of local people to take forward small developments (five to 10 homes) and determine local solutions to the tensions between ‘development and conservation, environmental quality and pressure on services'.
Initially this right was going to be restricted to rural areas, but the government has since decided that all communities across the country will be able to use these powers, although they believe that this is most likely to be relevant in rural areas where communities seek additional affordable housing or local amenities to support rural life.
What the Right means
In effect the Community Right to Build will allow neighbourhoods, where they have the support of local people, to bypass the usual requirements of the planning system. It is part of the measures being introduced to give neighbourhoods greater control over local development.
Community Right to Build schemes will be subject to lighter consultation requirements within the planning system and will not have to go through the same level of examination by local planning authorities (the planning part of a council) that are generally required. Under the proposals, community groups will be able to use this right to take forward small-scale developments that have local backing (more than 50 per cent of the community in a referendum), even where the local authority opposes the plans.
Such schemes will be only be able to be brought forward by community groups that are established as a corporate body by members of the local community, which means they are incorporated associations with a regulatory body, such as Companies House or the Charity Commission. This is intended to ensure that proposals are community-led and that there are arrangements in place to manage the benefit of the development for the community.
Only smaller schemes will be eligible to use this streamlined neighbourhood planning process and will be limited to exceed 10 per cent of existing development over a 10-year period.
The type, quantity and design of development to be built will be for the community group to decide and it will be for the community to identify suitable land, finance and development options, including any long-term management and maintenance arrangements.
Funding for such Community Right to Build schemes will stem from funding ring-fenced through the Comprehensive Spending Review as well as;
• Revenue Support Grant - an amount of money given by central government to local authorities each year.
• New Homes Bonus - offering a grant for councils who allow new homes to be built in their area
• The Community Infrastructure Levy - a new levy/tax that local authorities can choose to charge on new developments in their area. This money can be used to support such community right to build schemes
The Housing Minister, Grant Shapps has also asked the National Self Build Association (NASBA) to help DCLG to develop an action plan to boost the number of self-builders across the country. The government is keen to address the common barriers aspiring self-builders face, including the availability of land, availability of finance and the availability of expert support.
This right is currently being discussed in the House of Commons as part of the Localism Bill and is hoped to be passed and in effect by April 2012.