Big Society plans will let rural communities bypass town hall planners

Rural communities in England are to be given the power to build on green belt land without seeking local council planning permission, under the coalition government’s Big Society plans.

The Community Right to Build programme will allow residents to build any type of property in their villages, provided they gain enough local support.

The initiative, a long term objective for the new Government, aims to provide affordable homes in areas where high house prices are forcing people away.

Speaking on the BBC this morning, housing minister Grant Shapps said he wanted to help villages that were “dying on their feet” because of falling rural populations.

Shapps said: “Loads of people in village communities are saying, ‘Our school are closing, our post offices are under threat, we’re losing our community facilities.’

“This is all about taking power away from Whitehall and giving it to people locally. You go to a lot of rural areas and everyone accepts that more housing in villages is required just to sustain village life. What we want to do is say ‘villagers, this is your village and your Community Right to Build.’”

However, Shapps did state that new builds would need the support of at least 80% of the local population to go ahead and the final sign off would remain with the local authority.