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  6. Planners voice concern over ‘right to build’ initiative

Planners voice concern over ‘right to build’ initiative

The Planning Officers Society has proposed that the Government’s Community Right to Build (CRtB) initiative should be replaced by a Community Right to Plan.

The Society has argued that the proposal to operate the CRtB outside the mainstream planning system “puts the CRtB body at considerable risk from poorly considered planning constraints, unforeseen planning impacts, flawed procedure, and human rights, and possible legal challenges flowing from these”.

The society has made it clear, however, that it welcomes in principle the Government’s new proposals that enable communities themselves to address the serious shortfall in housing in rural areas.

John Silvester, spokesperson for the Society, said “in our response to the Government consultation we have suggested a Community Right to Plan that could be part of the proposed neighbourhood planning initiative”.

Such an approach, said the 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 formula 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 local planning authority, which would make it more likely they will give the proposal accreditation once the plans are complete.”

If the CRtB is to continue, the Society has suggested it is extensively piloted, with a cap of, say, 50 homes.

A Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Community Right to Build will give residents the power to give the green light to new homes that are suitable and appropriate for their local area. And because local people are in charge, developments will only go ahead with their overwhelming support.”

Read the Planning Officers Society press release

Roger Milne

9 September 2010