Report: greater transparency and community involvement can tackle Nimbys

Councils should be more transparent in the publication of planning-related data and government should look at determining whether neighbourhood plans should be set by councils if no parish council or neighbourhood forum does so in order to secure greater community backing for development proposals, a report has recommended.

Consultation: report says community engagement should be strengthened
Consultation: report says community engagement should be strengthened

The study, by the Demos think-tank, found that financial interests play only a limited role in motivating opposition to new housing developments and the question of who benefits from new housing is "crucial" to securing support for such schemes.

It also said that "concern for collective, community goods such as local aesthetics, green spaces, community facilities, infrastructure and access to public services is" is key to whether people will support or oppose development.

The research also found that there is "a significant lack of trust in the planning process".

"Many residents feel that developers will say anything to win permission, and that councils deliberately make it difficult for residents to scrutinise proposals, and that residents’ concerns are ignored when raised", Demos said.

The study found that, despite often taking longer to process, housing schemes put forward by community groups were more likely to secure planning consent and community-led housing could help solve the shortage of affordable housing in Britain.

The report makes a number of recommendations including:

  • The government should "mandate that local authorities publish all their planning decisions on data.gov.uk, and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) should ensure that data are published which allow for evaluation of the community-led sector";

  • The government should "evaluate the role of local and neighbourhood plans, with a view to determining whether neighbourhood plans should be set by local authorities following neighbourhood consultation, if no parish council or neighbourhood forum does so";

  • Councils should "ensure they have formal policies that allow officers to consider the wider benefits of community-led schemes in making recommendations to approve planning applications."

Report author Charlie Cadywould, said: "At the moment, the government’s will to get building is rarely matched by local residents who will be most directly impacted by new developments.

"By engaging local residents, by being democratic and acting as a credible, representative voice, community-led groups can ensure new developments match the needs and desires of local residents, and in doing so turn concern for the community into active support for more local housing."


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