Thursday, August 29, 2013

Just three things

Three things

Most people (including planners and councillors) can feel powerless and bemused by the planning system.  I hope that my blog is part of the ongoing process of demystification and empowerment.  So here are three things that anybody can do who subscribes to the ideas in earlier blogs that co-housing, self-building (esp group self-build) and local food (esp new smallholdings and community support agriculture) are good things.

In fact these three things can all be accomplished with one visit to the offices of the local planning authority.  Ask to be put on the register of those interested in these three forms of development.  The self-build register should include any relevant skills and local qualification and whether you would be prepared to join a group.  The co-housing register should include details of household size and whether self-build would be an option.  The register of smallholders could also include past experience and whether the interest would be full or part time.

Although Cherwell District Council thinks that it can find 1000 (one thousand) self-builders for a site near Bicester in north Oxfordshire, and self-build is a housing choice referred to at para 50 of the NPPF, and Policy Exchange thought such registers would be a good idea I doubt that any are currently being kept.  The conversation at the desk (or by email) would have to persuade the council (and your interest might not just be confined to your local area) that these registers would assist the LPA in promoting these forms of development through their Local Plans.

The support for self-building from Government (including a £30m grant for group schemes) should be sufficient grounds for this register. That the food chain is responsible for about 50% of GHG emissions should be sufficient to persuade a council that local food (growing, processing and distribution) should get any help it can give.  Co-housing is simply the most (only?) sustainable form of new housing in terms of economic, environmental and social impacts/benefits and should receive the full support from the NPPG presumption.

If you work in a council so much the better if these registers can be a local government initiative.

Good luck and don't take no for an answer.


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