Villagers to build homes without planning permission
Villages in England will be able to build new homes without getting planning consent from their local authority under new Government plans, Construction News reported.
The Right to Build initiative plans to create Local Housing Trusts, which would see villages hold a referendum before deciding whether a development should go ahead.
Construction Enquirer reported that the Right to Build initiative aims to provide small numbers of affordable homes in rural areas where high house prices are driving people away.
It is part of Government plans to delegate more decisions to local areas and Construction Enquirer billed the proposals as coming under the Conservatives ‘Big Society’ initiative.
Housing minister Grant Shapps said the plans would probably see developments of fewer than 20 homes.
Mr Shapps said: “Loads of people in village communities are saying, ‘Our school’s closing, our post offices are under threat, we’re losing our community facilities.’
“Our problem is that the young people grow up and find they can’t afford to live in this village anymore.
“We believe that people have a right to stay in their community and if people want to build that community to make it a bit bigger and expand it a bit, within reason, they should have the powers to do that.”
However, plans for Local Housing Trusts have already been criticised for requiring 90 per cent approval locally for the plans to go forward.
Bob Paterson, who advised the taskforce which drafted the policy, has claimed the proposal is unworkable as it would be too difficult to achieve 90 per cent acceptance.
Another key plank of the proposed Local Housing Trusts is the requirement for them to be non-profit organisations set up for the benefit of the community.
They must also own the land on behalf of the community in perpetuity, regardless of what is built on top. But Paterson claims that for the scheme to be meaningful barriers to entry would need to be 50 per cent or 60 per cent.
The plan for Local Housing Trusts is to be put before Parliament as part of the Decentralisation and Localism Bill later this year.