The Planning Officers Society welcomes in principle the Government's new proposals that enable communities themselves to address the serious shortfall in housing in rural areas. However, we consider that the proposal to sit Community Right to Build outside the mainstream planning system puts the Community Right to Build body at considerable risk from poorly considered planning constraints, unforeseen planning impacts, flawed procedure, and human rights, and possible legal challenges.
John Silvester, Spokesperson for the Society said "in our response to the Government consultation we have suggested a Community Right to Plan, as an alternative to the Community Right to Build, that could be part of the proposed neighbourhood planning initiative." Such an approach, asserts POS, would enable the community to call upon the local planning authority to closely support their work, bear the professional risks associated with it, and procure any additional specialist work required from consultants.
Malcolm Sharp, Junior Vice-President and principal author of the response, said "The Community Right to Plan facility would need to be a strong partnership, more than would necessarily emerge from a simple 'duty to co‐operate'. it would have the advantage of generating, in most cases, some ownership on the part of the LPA, which would make it more likely they will give the proposal accreditation once the plans are complete".
Sharp added "there are, however, other arguably more significant barriers to development in rural communities than the planning process - for example current Government policy for development in the countryside and green belt, owners holding onto sites in the hope their value may increase, and local opposition."
If the Community Right to Build is to continue, the Society has suggested that it is extensively piloted, with a cap of, say, 50 homes.
The Society's response can be seen by clicking here
Malcolm Sharp jvp@planningofficers,org.uk