THE government has called on communities to lay the foundations for building the developments they want in their area.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said communities should start looking at opportunities offered by the government’s Community Right to Build proposals.
The proposals are contained in the Localism Bill, which is currently before parliament.
Previously restricted to rural areas, Mr Shapps has extended the scheme to include urban areas as well.
Doing so meant all communities across the country could benefit from the new homes, shops and facilities they really wanted, he said.
The proposals would allow local people to deliver homes and developments by shifting power from government and councils to neighbourhoods.
Mr Shapps said doing so would enable local communities to shape the future of their neighbourhoods without being hindered by bureaucracy and red tape.
“I want communities of all shapes and sizes, living in the smallest of villages and the largest of cities, to have the chance to drive forward their own plans.”
The Community Right to Build would do just that, claimed Mr Shapps.
It would give local people the chance to give the go-ahead to new, small-scale developments that received local support.
To explain the new powers, the government has published a guide encouraging people to think about the community-led development they want to see.
Mr Shapps said: “It should give them the pointers they need so they can lay the foundations for making their house-building dreams a reality.”
Under the proposals, which are contained in the Localism Bill, community organisations would be able to approve new local developments.
They would be able to bypass normal planning application processes, so long as the proposals met certain criteria and received community backing.
Projects with the support of more than 50% of people that voted in a local referendum will get the go-ahead.
The government claims this will give communities the power to decide how to meet the local priorities in their area.
It could include additional social housing, shops with low rents for local convenience stores or farm shops, or a new village hall or sports facilities.