On July 23rd 2010, Grant Schapps the Coalition Housing Minister, announced his intention to create a Community Right to Build (CRTB) for rural communities that would allow them to bypass the planning system to create modestly sized additions to their villages.
To exercise their Community Right to Build, project teams will have to gain the support of 50% of local residents voting in a formal referendum, which most commentators agree will be a formidable task. (This threshold has already been reduced twice since the initial announcement, which set it at 90%). CRTB developments will be limited to 10% of the size of the existing village in any 10-year period.
At present it is almost impossible to build smaller groups of new houses in rural areas outside existing settlements, unless they are affordable homes built under a ‘Rural Exceptions Policy’ contained in the Local Plan. CRTB projects may well focus on the provision of affordable housing for local residents, but open-market housing, community, recreation and commercial facilities will also be allowed.
The Community Right to Build was introduced to Paliament as part of the Localism Bill, published on 13th December last year. The Bill is quite hard to read, but the CRTB is covered in the second of two PDF documents (Volume 2) as part of the section on Neighbourhood Development Orders, starting on page 128 of the PDF (page 288 of the Bill). In January 2011 the department for Communites and Local Government published an ‘impact asessment‘ on the Bill. It is a rather technical document but contains a useful summary which I’ve put here: CLG CRTB impact assessment extract jan 2011
My own ‘guide’ to the Community Right to Build is here (added July 2011)
Update, September 2012:
The Community Right to Build Came into force in April 2012. Community network Locality were tasked by the government to provide information and support about the CRTB, through a website describing the four new Community Rights. A ‘see-corn’ fund of £17.5m, administered by the Homes and Communities Agency, was set up to help potential CRTB project-teams with their costs. Despite this effort, uptake of the Community Right to Build has apparently been very slow. Ruralise is disappointed, but not very surprised; I have written about confusion over its purpose several times, here for instance.