Building more homes is one of the most pressing challenges facing our country. People need high quality, affordable houses in the places they choose. However, this goal is often seen to be at odds with people’s wishes to protect their places and communities.

We believe this to be a false dichotomy. In fact, the evidence we have from neighbourhood planning tells a very different story.

Instituted by the Localism Act 10 years ago, neighbourhood planning created the right for local communities to come together and decide on the development they want to happen in their area. Neighbourhood plans are shaped by community engagement and need to be approved by a majority vote in a local referendum. Neighbourhood plans put community control on a statutory footing.

So far over a thousand communities have made neighbourhood plans with a thousand more in development. The Commission on the Future of Localism – which assessed the impact of the Localism Act – found that neighbourhood planning had been the most successful of the various Community Rights created.

Crucially, neighbourhood planning leads to more housing. Government research has shown areas with a neighbourhood plan allocate more land for new housing than areas without. This shows that local people aren’t against more housing being built in their neighbourhoods. They just want development that is sensitive to the needs of their place and community.

Locality has published a new pamphlet, in partnership with Create Streets and the New Social Covenant Unit, outlining our recommendations for a community-powered planning policy.

We believe these recommendations will enable local people to make more meaningful choices over the future of their areas. The pamphlet has been endorsed by a number of MPs including John Penrose MP and Miriam Cates MP.

  • Giving communities more control over how they develop – extending neighbourhood planning to give communities more powers.
  • Embedding community stewardship – prioritise long-term social, economic and environmental value over short term financial gain.
  • Building community stewardship with a national Community Ownership Strategy. This could be build on the Community Ownership Fund, making it as accessible as possible to the areas most in need of levelling up.
  • Ensuring there are healthy governance institutions at the neighbourhood level.
  • Encouraging developers to build the homes that people want, with empirical links to health and wellbeing.

Download and read the Taking back control of our Streets below.

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