This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/giving-people-more-power-over-what-happens-in-their-neighbourhood. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.

Issue

For too long communities have not had a big enough say in what happens in their local area – whether it be about what happens to local amenities, how local services are delivered, or how new development is planned.

Actions

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is taking action to give local communities new rights. These rights will give community, voluntary and charity groups the opportunity to take the initiative when it comes to how local public services are run and planning decisions are made.

We are offering support to groups who want to use these new rights – providing information, funding and simple guidance called ‘you’ve got the power’ to help them navigate and exercise the rights.

Community Right to Bid

The Community Right to Bid will give community groups the right to prepare and bid to buy community buildings and facilities that are important to them. It came into effect on 21 September 2012.

Community Right to Challenge

The Community Right to Challenge allows voluntary and community groups, charities, parish councils and local authority staff to bid to run a local authority service where they believe they can do so differently and better. This may be the whole service or part of a service. It came into force on 27 June 2012.

Neighbourhood planning

New neighbourhood planning measures allow communities to shape new development by coming together to prepare neighbourhood plans. They came into force on 6 April 2012.

Community Right to Build

The Community Right to Build allows local communities to propose small-scale, site-specific, community-led developments. It came into force on 6 April 2012.

Community Right to Reclaim Land

The Community Right to Reclaim Land helps communities to improve their local area by giving them the right to ask that under-used or unused land owned by public bodies is brought back into beneficial use.

Design support for communities

We’re supporting an industry-led review to help in putting together a cross-sector package of design support for communities.

Our Place!

The Our Place! programme (formerly ‘neighbourhood community budgets’) gives communities the opportunity to take control of dealing with local issues in their area.

Barrier Busting website

In December 2010, the government launched the barrier busting website. The website is designed to help individuals, community groups, and town and parish local councils to tell government about any central barriers, unnecessary bureaucracy or burdens that might be stopping them from achieving improvements to their neighbourhood.

Background

In the coalition agreement the government outlined its plans to:

  • promote the radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups
  • radically reform the planning system to give neighbourhoods far more ability to determine the shape of the places in which their inhabitants live

The Localism Bill was introduced to Parliament on 13 December 2010, and was given Royal Assent on 15 November 2011, becoming an Act.

Impact

Community Rights will benefit communities across the country, giving them more power to shape local development and services. We carried out impact assessments on the Community Right to Challenge, Community Right to Bid and on neighbourhood plans and the Community Right to Build.

These looked at the effects of the rights on organisations such as local councils, parish councils, neighbourhood forums, local planning authorities and other local public bodies.

Bills and legislation

Community Rights are enshrined in law by the Localism Act 2011. The Community Right to Build is part of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations.

Secondary legislation was required to bring the Community Right to Challenge into force:

  • The Community Right to Challenge (Fire and Rescue Authorities and Rejection of Expressions of Interest) (England) Regulations 2012
  • The Community Right to Challenge (Expressions of Interest and Excluded Services) (England) Regulations 2012

The Assets of Community Value Regulations, which provide the detail of how the Community Right to Bid will operate, are awaiting the final stage of Parliamentary clearance and subject to this approval the scheme will come into force in October 2012. Legislation covering the referendum stage of neighbourhood planning came into force on 2 August 2012.

Who we’re working with

DCLG has put in place a range of specialist support to help community groups through every stage of the Community Rights processes – from setting up a group and developing a proposal right through to the delivery stage. This support is provided by a number of partners.

The Homes and Communities Agency manages our new fund to assist community groups with the costs of using the Community Right to Build.

The My Community Rights support hub is managed by Locality. This provides a range of support and advice for communities using the new rights. You can also find details of funding to support local groups to use the Community Right to Challenge and on the Community Ownership and Management of Assets grants programme.

We also provide funding to 4 organisations already offering support on neighbourhood planning:

Local planning authorities (usually the borough or district council) have a duty to provide advice and assistance to groups undertaking neighbourhood planning.

The Cabe Team at the Design Council offer free tailored support to community groups involved in neighbourhood planning.

Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) also provides information on community-led planning including contact details for the 38 regional members of the Rural Community Action Network.

Appendix 1: Community Right to Build

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Community Right to Build allows local communities to undertake small-scale, site-specific, community-led developments.

The new powers give communities the freedom to build new homes, shops, businesses or facilities where they want them, without going through the normal planning application process.

To get the go-ahead, the proposals must:

  • have the agreement of more than 50% of local people that vote through a community referendum
  • meet some minimum requirements (for example, they should generally be in line with national planning policies and strategic elements of the local plan)

Members of the community will need to set themselves up as a corporate body with the purpose of furthering the social, economic and environmental well-being of the local community. The developments would then be managed by this corporate body. Any benefits from any development which come to the body must be retained or used for the benefit of the community.

While it will be for communities themselves to identify suitable land, sources of finance and secure local agreement for their proposals, the government is funding a package of support to help communities that want to use the right.

We’ve created a new fund to assist community groups with the costs of using the right, run by the Homes and Communities Agency. The fund is worth £17.5 million over 3 years, and is for schemes in England excluding London where separate arrangements are in place.

Alongside the funding support, we’ve also launched a new support hub called My Community Rights managed by Locality. This gives a variety of guidance and practical advice to community groups wishing to use the right.

The Community Right to Build forms part of the neighbourhood planning provisions contained in the Localism Act 2011. It became law on 6 April 2012 as part of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations.

Appendix 2: Community Right to Bid

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Community Right to Bid gives community groups a fairer chance to save assets that are important to them. This could include their:

  • village shop
  • pub
  • community centre
  • children’s centre
  • allotment
  • library
  • cinema
  • recreation ground

The right covers private as well as public assets.

Local authorities are required to keep a list of all of these ‘assets of community value’. If an owner of a listed asset wants to sell it they have to notify the local authority. The local authority then, in turn, has to notify any interested parties.

If community groups are interested in buying an asset they can use the Community Right to Bid to ‘pause’ the sale, giving them 6 months to prepare a bid to buy it before the asset can be sold.

The Community Right to Bid came into effect on 21 September 2012 and over 3,500 people have used the right to date (April 2014). You can see some examples on the Community Rights Pinterest board.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has put in place a support and advice service run by Locality and the Social Investment Business. They provide free advice and practical help, including grant funding.

See the My Community Rights website for more information.

Appendix 3: Community Right to Challenge

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Community Right to Challenge allows voluntary and community groups, charities, social enterprises, parish councils, local and fire and rescue authority staff to bid to run authority services where they believe they can do so differently and better. This may be the whole service or part of a service.

Groups need to submit a written expression of interest. Local authorities must consider and respond to expressions of interest which, if accepted, will trigger a procurement exercise for that service. The interested group will then take part in the procurement exercise, alongside others.

The Community Right to Challenge was introduced by the Localism Act 2011 and came into effect on 27 June 2012. Secondary legislation was required to bring the right into force:

Authorities must also take into account statutory guidance about the right.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has put in place a support and advice service run by Locality and the Social Investment Business. This includes examples of how local authorities are implementing the right and supporting community groups to deliver services.

See the My Community Rights website for more information.

Appendix 4: design support for communities

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Design Council, working with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Landscape Institute, the Home Builders Federation and others, has been exploring new approaches towards providing design support for communities.

The findings of this work have recently been published in the Bishop Review and include innovative ideas such as making design advice and toolkits more accessible for communities.

Design support for communities is happening already. For example, developers and communities worked closely together to develop successful housing schemes at Woodberry Down and St Andrews in London. We see an opportunity for there to be an increased focus on communities as the new clients across the sector.

As a next step, government will be hosting a ministerial-led summit, in partnership with the Design Council and involving RIBA and RTPI and other partners, to scope how best to support built environment professionals in creating a nationwide network of neighbourhood designers who can help communities to influence local design.

Appendix 5: Community Right to Reclaim Land

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Community Right to Reclaim Land helps communities to improve their local area by giving them the right to ask that under-used or unused land owned by local councils and other public bodies is sold so that it can brought back into use.

Huge areas of previously developed land are left vacant or under-used in England. Much is owned by public bodies. As assets are held on behalf of the taxpayer they must be used efficiently. When land is no longer needed it should be sold, for example, for housing or other development, or for use as public or community spaces.

The Community Right to Reclaim Land makes it easier to bring land back into use if it is owned by local authorities or other public bodies such as, for example, the Environment Agency, the BBC or the British Transport police. Schedule 16 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 has a full list of these bodies.

Under the Community Right to Reclaim Land anyone can send a request to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government setting out why they think:

  • land or property described in the request process is under-used or vacant
  • that there are no suitable, consulted upon and publicly tested plans in place or likely to be put in place in an acceptable period of time
  • the land should be disposed of by its current owner in order to enable it to be brought back into use

Once a request has been submitted under the Community Right to Reclaim Land, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will assess it, which includes finding out from the current owner any plans they may have for its use. If after this stage the Secretary of State decides the land is vacant and underused and that the council has no plans to bring it into use, they can issue a disposal notice that requires the public body to dispose of the land.

Disposal will normally (but not automatically) mean that the land is sold on the open market, so community groups or others may be able to acquire the land.

We have produced the Public Request to Order Disposal request form to make it easier for anyone who wants to exercise their right to be provided with, and to provide, all the necessary information.

Public Request to Order Disposal: request form

Right to Contest

For land and property held by government departments and the majority of their arm’s length bodies a request can be made under the Right to Contest to release it for better economic use. Unlike the Community Right to Reclaim Land, which covers previously unused or underused land, the Right to Contest can be used to argue that land currently in use could be put to better economic purpose. The Right to Contest came into force on 8 January 2014.

Read the guide for more information about how to submit a request under the Right to Contest or email righttocontest@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk

Public sector land programme

The government is currently aiming to release public sector land with capacity to deliver up to 100,000 homes by March 2015. From 2015 the Homes and Communities Agency will be acting as the government’s land disposal agency to improve how government sells its land.

Appendix 6: neighbourhood planning

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to ensure they get the right types of development for their community. Using these new tools, communities will be able to:

  • choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built
  • have their say on what those new buildings should look like
  • grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead

Parish and town councils or neighbourhood forums will lead the creation of neighbourhood plans, supported by the local planning authority. Once written, the plan will be independently examined and put to a referendum of local people for approval.

Find out more on neighbourhood planning.

Appendix 7: Our Place!

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Our Place! programme (formerly ‘neighbourhood community budgets’) gives communities the opportunity to take control of dealing with local issues in their area.

This could include:

  • parents who are worried their children don’t have enough to do
  • businesses who are struggling to find local staff with the right skills
  • public servants who need to make their resources stretch further
  • residents who want to make their neighbourhood a better place to live
  • or whatever is the local priority

Using the Our Place! approach means putting the community at the heart of decision making and bringing together the right people – councillors, public servants, businesses, voluntary and community organisations and the community itself - to revolutionise the way a neighbourhood works.

12 areas have been piloting the Our Place! approach since 2012 and are now putting their plans into practice. Read more about about their successes and lessons learnt.

We have made available a further £4.3 million to support at least 100 areas to develop their Our Place! operational plans by March 2015 and have appointed Locality to help provide this support. Of these 100 areas, Locality will support 20 to adopt a more radical approach by, for example, focusing on large or complex services.

The support is likely to be a mix of technical advice and grant funding and other direct help to enable areas to put their operational plans in place. We will expect our support provider/s to work with a range of different organisations including local authorities, parish and town councils, community groups and other public-sector bodies.

On 14 April 2014 Stephen Williams announced that Locality and partners are working with 123 new areas on the Our Place programme.

Become an Our Place! team – further information

For more detailed information on Our Place! or to express an interest in becoming an Our Place! neighbourhood email the Our Place! team

Additional information including quick guides can be found on the My Community Rights website or by emailing the Our Place! team

Appendix 8: barrier busting

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

In December 2010 the barrier busting website was launched to allow local people to get things done for their local community. These barriers might take the form of rules and regulations or time-consuming bureaucracy that can prevent local groups from taking projects forward.

If groups or individuals have done everything reasonably possible to resolve the issue at a local level without success they can contact the central government barrier busting team.

Councils at all levels can also use the form in exactly the same way as individuals and community groups.

The barrier busting team will decide if they can assist, perhaps by re-examining policies, by getting rid of unnecessary requirements, or by working with officials in other government departments.

Once the form has been submitted, a unique identification number will be provided and a response given within 5 working days. Suggestions other people have made are viewable so similar requests don’t need to be made repeatedly.