Localism building orders 'first' in country to pass examination

Three localism orders that allow communities to grant planning permission for new buildings are thought to be the first in England to have passed examination.

Ferring beach, West Sussex. Pic: Curtis James, Flickr
Ferring beach, West Sussex. Pic: Curtis James, Flickr

The draft Community Right to Build (CRB) orders were drawn up by Ferring Parish Council in Arun district, West Sussex.

They were approved along with the parish’s neighbourhood plan by independent examiner Clare Wright, who said both the plan and the orders could be put to the public vote.

Introduced alongside neighbourhood planning by the Localism Act, the CRB allows communities to grant planning permission for new buildings, sidestepping the normal planning application process.

Like neighbourhood plans, CRB orders must be independently examined and receive the backing of more than 50 per cent of voters in a local referendum before they are approved.

In January, two CRB orders in Slaugham, also in West Sussex, were the first in England to reach examination, according to the examiner. But the two orders, and the accompanying neighbourhood plan, failed examination, principally in relation to European Union environmental requirements. 

According to Wright’s report, both the Ferring Neighbourhood Plan and CRB Orders "are based primarily on the need for a new community centre and more space for allotments" in the parish.

Two of the CRB orders propose "replacing the two existing sites of largely community owned/ occupied land of existing allotments and village hall with housing targeted towards older people".

A total of 24 new homes are proposed from the two orders.

The report states: "The capital receipts [from the sale of the land] and developer contributions are to pay for acquiring land to the rear of the allotments for the proposed housing development, for resiting the allotments and to contribute towards a new community centre."

The third order seeks planning permission for a new community centre.

Wright proposed minor modifications to the orders, but stated: "Ferring Parish Council is to be commended for taking the initiative in producing its Community Right to Build Orders which are amongst the first in the country to reach examination stage."

The Ferring Neighbourhood Plan, to which Wright also made minor modifications, proposes 50 new homes in the parish from 2014 up to 2029, allocating three housing sites. 

Planning consultant Neil Homer, director at RCOH, advised the parish council on the plan and the orders, which he thought were the first in the country to pass examination.

He also advised on the Rustington Neighbourhood Plan, covering a neighbouring parish near Littlehampton, which has also just passed examination.

Homer said: "We are delighted with this news.

"We think the plan is hugely innovative and its proposals would simply never have been made in any other way than through a plan and orders.

"The referendum has still to be won but this has the hallmark of a game-changing plan to encourage others to consider the value of making orders."

Homes said both Ferring and Rustington "have worked very hard over a couple of years to bring forward their plans in difficult circumstances".

Carole Robertson, chair of Ferring Parish Council, said: "This project has galvanised the parish council and the local community like never before on planning issues."

The examination reports on both the Ferring CRB orders and the neighbourhood plan can be found here.


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