Community Right to Build

Like the Community Right to Reclaim Land, the Community Right to Build was introduced as part of the 2011 Localism Act with the express purpose of giving local people a greater say over how land in their area is used.  A Community Right to Build order differs from a Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO) or Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) in that any community organisation can propose a development, rather than the proposal coming from a parish or local council.

The Right to Build was designed to empower local groups to propose a small-scale development project in their area and obtain permission to develop a site without the need to go through the usual planning application procedures. Developments most commonly proposed include housing projects, shops, businesses, playgrounds or local amenities which will benefit the wider community, with community groups able to specify the scale and design of the intended development.

How Does the Right to Build Work?

In order for a Community Right to Build project to get the go-ahead, there are certain hurdles a proposal must jump and boxes which must be ticked.  In order to qualify, the community group putting forward the scheme must form a legally recognised organisation and at least half of its members must live in the neighbourhood which will be affected by the development.

The proposal must then receive at least 50% support from local people after a community referendum and meet some basic criteria such as proving the development is for the community good rather than personal gain, and that it is contained within a defined area.  Once an organisation has formulated its proposals and put together a draft order with supporting evidence, the project is then submitted to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) and assessed by an independent examiner.

The Right to Build: Step by Step

The initial stage of submitting a Right to Build order involves a ‘Regulation 14 Pre-Submission’ phase which usually lasts around six weeks.  During this time, the organisation submitting the plans must publicise their proposals and make the details available so that other local residents can form their own opinions on the scheme.  Statutory consultation bodies such as the county council, Environment Agency, Natural England or English Heritage will also need to be given time to consider the proposals to see how they will be impacted by the scheme, and copy of the proposal will also have to be submitted to the local authorities.

Following this there is usually a six week-long ‘Regulation 16’ consultation, where any necessary amendments are made to the original plan and a finalised proposal is submitted.  The proposal must include a site location plan, which ought to include illustrations of the finished project, elevations, cross-sections and perspective views, to help the assessors see the development in context.  There should also be a design and access statement, a statement on how the plans fulfil basic conditions and legal requirements, clarification of who owns the land, a consultation statement and any other supporting documents such as technical reports or land analysis.

After that the local authorities will appoint an independent examiner with the agreement of the community group, and they will consider the proposals before making a decision on whether the proposals should be put to a local referendum.

If they approve the plans then a referendum is usually organised by the elections unit of the local authority, who will have to make the proposals public at least 28 working days before the vote takes place.  They must also give 25 days’ public notice that the poll is taking place, along with a fixed date for the referendum.  If half of those who vote are in favour of the development, then the LPA will grant permission and the community group can begin work.