Community Right to Build Orders are one of a raft of initiatives introduced by the Localism Act 2011.
This Act was conceived to fulfil the Government’s stated commitment to decentralising control over public services, assets and planning from central government to local government and from local government to local communities. It includes new community rights, including the Community Right to Bid, Community Right to Challenge and Community Right to Build. These give communities explicit powers in the areas of local assets, local services, planning and development. The Act also introduced neighbourhood plans, that may be prepared by parish or town councils or designated neighbourhood forums.
If your community wants to construct or rebuild community buildings such as a community centre or community-led housing, a Community Right to Build Order could be the best route for you to take.
A Community Right to Build Order is a type of Neighbourhood Development Order and forms one of the neighbourhood planning tools introduced in the Localism Act 2011. It can be used to grant outline or full planning permission for specific development which complies with the order. For example: homes, shops, businesses, affordable housing for rent or sale, community facilities or playgrounds.
A Community Right to Build Order is put together by local people who can decide on the type, quantity and design of buildings they want, and in the locations they want them.
Once an order has been drawn up with the involvement of local people, it is publicised and consulted on before being submitted to your local planning authority. Your authority arranges for an independent examiner to test whether the order meets the relevant legal tests, such as ensuring it is in line with national planning policies and certain basic conditions. If the independent examiner gives their approval, the Order is put to a local referendum.
If more than 50 per cent of those who vote in the referendum are in favour of the Community Right to Build Order, it will be ‘made’ and planning permission will have been granted. What is important about this process is that the community gives permission for the building to go ahead – not the local authority as happens with a traditional planning application.
A Community Right to Build Order can be produced at the same time as a neighbourhood plan, or separately.
A particular advantage of using Community Right to Build is that where the community organisation decides to also undertake the development, then any profit generated by the project must stay within the community. So buildings constructed by the community organisation can only be disposed of, improved or developed in a way that benefits the community. The community organisation can also ensure certain provisions are put in place so that affordable housing remains affordable in perpetuity.
A Community Right to Build Order may only be prepared by parish and town councils and community organisations that meet certain legal requirements. For example those who live in the area must have a majority of the voting rights. This means it is under the control of people who know and care about the area.
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