Right to Build? or Right to Buy Right to Build?

The Govt policy announced today the ‘Right to Build‘ , a mechanism for communities to take decisions on their own to avoid the normal planning route. This could be one of two things, a path for communities to gain power over their local planning needs or a charter for Middle England to say no to any development. Which is it going to be? Given the torturous history of UK planning legislation and policies, and the routine objections that any development attracts, I believe that it is much more likely that this will lead to local groups gathering together over opposition to development than gathering together in support of it. Unless there is something in it for them.The idea is not developed enough to clarify whether the Right to Build can be construed as a determination to not build.

Local groups are likely to get together to plan a local facility or an extension to a facility, but how likely is it that a community group are going to get together to plan a housing development unless the landowner is behind the project. If the landowner is behind the project then the landowner stands to gain enormously from such a project and can afford to buy the compliance of the community. Is this going to engender good planning? Or is it more likely to engender greed, infighting, and neighbour v neighbour disputes?

The principle of allowing development where a community has a strong desire for it is a good one, and ought to foster sustainable development. On the positive side, this policy may allow rural communities to achieve planning for renewable energy projects such as small scale wind farms, water turbines or biomass schemes.

This is such a step outside of historic planning legislation that there is no telling how things will go. Whatever the direction, it won’t be predictable.

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