Pioneering parish council publishes local building orders

A pioneering Mid Sussex parish council has become one of the first in England to publish orders that allow communities to grant planning permission for new buildings, sidestepping the normal planning application process.

Local order: community centre plan
Local order: community centre plan
Slaugham Parish Council and Mid Sussex District Council have today published the Slaugham Parish neighbourhood plan and two Community Right to Build (CRB) Orders, prior to their examination in August.

According to planning consultancy rCOH, which was appointed by the parish council to help prepare the plan and orders, the neighbourhood plan is the first to reach this stage in Sussex, while the CRB orders are the first to reach this stage in England.

Introduced by the Localism Act that came into force last April, the CRB allows communities to grant permission for new buildings, sidestepping the normal planning application process.

Before coming into force, the proposals must be independently examined and receive the backing of more than 50 per cent of voters in a local referendum before they are approved.

The parish council's first order is to build 76 new homes in the village of Handcross, of which exactly half would be affordable homes and 17 for 'self-build'.

The second order is for a new community centre and bowling green, also in Handcross.

The orders, and the neighbourhood plan, will be examined together, with the intention to hold the referendum by the end of 2013, rCOH said.

Umbrella body Locality, which advises on both neighbourhood planning and the CRB, said that Slaugham’s is the first neighbourhood plan to include proposals to make CRB orders.

Chris Hinchey, chair of the neighbourhood plan committee, said: "Our plan is designed in a way that maximises community benefit and minimises environmental impact on the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty."

Neil Homer, planning director of rCOH, said: "The pressures on the committee have been considerable, but they have not buckled and have instead produced a strategy that we hope will win the support of the examiner and local voters by the end of the year."

This week, national housing and regeneration quango the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) announced that Slaugham Parish Council has been given £54,000 to draw up the two CRB orders from a £17 million government fund.

It is the first local group in the country to obtain cash from the fund, which is handled by the HCA and the Greater London Authority, outside and inside the capital respectively.

The HCA manages £14 million of the funding and the GLA £3 million.

Earlier this year, Planning revealed that the fund, launched by former housing minister Grant Shapps in May 2011, had only four applications by February 2012.

In March, the government removed a requirement that groups seeking to access cash from the fund must use the money to prepare their development proposals and submit a CRB order.

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