Tony Armstrong responds to new "Right to Regenerate" proposals announced by the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP.
Putting land and buildings in community hands brings long-term benefits to local areas.

The government’s plan to create a “right to regenerate” represents a great opportunity to create more community assets and build community power.

We know that putting land and buildings in community hands brings long-term benefits to local areas. It can breathe new life into underused spaces and drive economic renewal. It can create and protect community hubs, where local people can meet, build relationships and access support. It can enable local people to build the homes their community needs.

So giving communities “first refusal” of underused land and buildings could be a really important idea. We look forward to seeing the detail in the consultation and engaging with the government to understand how this new right can support Locality’s network of over 1000 community organisations to drive their neighbourhoods forward. We know there is a huge pipeline of potential community led housing and huge demand to take on ownership of important spaces. One of the biggest barriers is access to land and buildings, alongside funding, which these reforms could help unlock.

We’ve been calling for some time for the “first refusal” principle to be introduced to the Community Right to Bid, to transform this currently underpowered right into a genuine “right to buy”. So it’s great to see the “first refusal” mechanism being proposed here and it will be interesting to learn how this could be extended to other community rights.

Our Localism Commission examined some of the flaws in the original community rights, and found that legislation is just one part of the picture. Rights alone aren’t enough, they need resources and relationships to truly unlock community power.

We hope the new right to regenerate has the opportunity to learn these lessons to help create transformative local partnerships between councils and communities.

Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Locality