Planning picked up on the very slow start to community take-up of the Community Right to Build. Something the Government have pushed both through their rhetoric and allocation of the public finances.

Thus far, only 4 applications have been submitted. When asked why? Locality, in part, charged with supporting this initiative on DCLG’s behalf, opined – well there have been 900 enquiries about Right to Build. But at 0.004% that is a pretty poor conversion rate.

OK. And we do think that this is the main reason – it is early days for Community Right to Build. And we had the good fortune to be asked for expert opinion on this by Planning. Even to the point of publishing this juicy morsel.

“Grant Shapps seemed to sell it [Community Right to Build] like you could get up on Monday morning, start work on the Order and then by Friday you could complete it.

“That was never going to happen.”

Typical breezy Shapps. But if Community Right to Build is to take-off, in the way the Government would like, we do think it is worthwhile airing some of the other reasons we identified with Planning, but due to space restrictions were not published, for the slow take-up of Right to Build.

  • Complexity – for most areas what a neighbourhood plan is, and how to go about preparing one, is something they can get their heads around. But Community Right to Build is a very new and different challenge. One that, because, ultimately, you are granting planning permission will require expert help.
  • Mixed message – this is one the Government can sort out. The messages on Community Right to Build  have been mixed. Not just in underplaying how much work is involved, but in terms of the scale of what Community Right to Build can achieve. At one time these Orders seemed to be the solution to the nation’s housing crisis. That would have meant they were big, brash and bold. Urban extensions even? But in more recent announcements they have been downplayed as small village extensions and infill sites. So come on DCLG – just what are these Orders for?
  • Giant Leap – related to the first point, but slightly different, in the 30 or so parishes and potential fora we have worked with, or provided training, this is a giant leap. To go from possibly never having prepared a plan to now granting planning permission! You should see some of the expressions when we say this. And that has a related point about “do we lose control”?
  • People want to plan for their whole area – again, our experience is, that even where areas see the value, or are tempted to prepare a Community Right to Build Order – they, and huge credit to them, feel their responsibility is firstly to prepare a plan for their whole area, not just one site. A huge feather in neighbourhood planning’s cap this one. And an example of how certainly within their neighbourhood people see the “bigger picture”.
  • Developer interest? – where are the intrepid developers ready to throw in their lot with the local community and plan with them a future development? Thus far nowhere to be seen. Come on someone has to be first.

Early days then for Community Right to Build. Doomed? Not at this stage. The cash is there, through the HCA and GLA, and with some decent tweaking this can be made to work.

Interested in Community Right to Build? Need to find out more? Call Michael now on

01282 872570

This article is a slightly amended version from the one on our ever popular Kirkwells’ Planning Blog.

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