Steve Lees, director at SmartNewHomes, comments on the proposed Community Right to Build programme.

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  • Housing minister Grant Shapps announced proposals in May for a Right to Build programme in a bid to put the power to grant planning permission firmly in the hands of communities.

    Under the proposals, communities will be able to approve new developments without the need to go through the normal planning application process.

    As long as the proposals meet certain criteria and there is the backing of more than 50 per cent of voters in a local referendum, projects will get the go-ahead.

    Steve Lees, director at SmartNewHomes, said: "The Community Right to Build programme is baffling, appearing to be ill thought out, on-the-hoof policy which may end up dividing communities instead of bringing them together.

    "Controversially, Grant Shapps' proposal grants local people the power to build on green belt land, something that developers are prevented from doing except in exceptional circumstances. It's a policy that is unlikely to supported by those who have long opposed the suggestion.

    "If anything, communities should first be encouraged to utilise brownfield sites within the community, a policy that developers have been required to follow.

    "A further question mark hangs over the funding for these new homes. Does Shapps honestly expect locals without any experience of house building to 'group together' to get funding from banks, to produce homes that are not only affordable to buy but are sustainable in the long term?

    "And who will pay for improvements to the local infrastructure in order to support the new homes, a duty currently bestowed on house builders? The detail of Shapps' long-awaited Localism Bill can't come soon enough."

    Some information contained herein may have changed since it was first published. SmartNewHomes strongly advises you to seek current legal and/or financial advice from a qualified professional.

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