“Street votes”: a mixed reaction

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will allow ‘street votes’ where most loft conversions, conservatories and extensions can be built quicker, without full planning permission, as long as a third of locals don’t object.

Jackie Weaver: “You think my parish council meeting was heated? New ‘street votes’ could be much worse.”

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The YIMBY Alliance has been pushing for ‘street votes’ to unblock the housing crisis for some time:

Street votes FAQ | YIMBY Alliance

This was first put forward by the Policy Exchange think tank:

Street votes: How greater local control of development can transform our suburban neighbourhoods | The Planner

The Mail reports on the latest government proposals:

Michael Gove today admitted the Tories will not hit their manifesto pledge to build 300,000 new homes each year by 2025 as he gave neighbours the chance to veto plans for housing in their area in new ‘Street Votes’.
His new planning rules were watered down in the Queen‘s Speech to appease Tory voters left irate that English villages are being ‘swallowed up’ by sprawling towns and new estates.
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will allow ‘street votes’ where most loft conversions, conservatories and extensions can be built quicker, without full planning permission, as long as a third of locals don’t object.

Whole streets to get veto on what is built in their area | Daily Mail Online

The response from the profession has been very mixed:

Aston Mead Land & Planning Director Charles Hesse said: “These proposals are deeply flawed. There will always be a proportion of local residents who are opposed to any sort of change, at any time in the future – even when they haven’t considered the benefits those changes might bring. They seem to believe that despite a growing population with new and different needs and requirements, a policy of preserving the past in some sort of architectural aspic is the best option. The truth is that this kind of approach gives a minority of people the majority of the power. And it will make plans for much needed new homes on some sites simply unworkable – which is why it’s so unfair. In fact, one of our planning contacts told me this week that this current Tory government is the most anti-housing government he has known in a lifetime.”

Street Votes plan ‘unworkable and unfair’, say Aston Mead – PropertyWire

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) welcomes Government’s commitment to reforming planning at the heart of the ‘Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill’. Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the RTPI said, “The fact that planning is so central to this bill makes it feel like the profession has been promoted from the Championship to the Premier League. This is a clear indication that Government recognises what planning can achieve in helping communities across the country.

RTPI | RTPI welcomes planning reform at the heart of Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill

Commenting on what is dubbed as “street votes” Peter Rainier, principal director of planning at law firm DMH Stallard, said: “The idea of community led regeneration and ‘street votes’ is certainly an interesting one. What it is not is some sort of NIMBY charter, but rather a radical proposal for how residents could through agreement increase housing numbers where they live. However, it is difficult to see how increased local involvement will do this. Will residents really be motivated to seek change and regeneration? I doubt it.”

Planning reforms met with scepticism as levelling-up bill is tabled | Construction News

The government’s proposals for ‘street votes’ enabling neighbourhood residents to take planning powers into their own hands is being viewed with a strong dose scepticism by councils.
Local authorities believe the policy will add unnecessary complexity to the planning system, and a leading planning expert has warned it could lead to a “chaotic” process.

‘Street Votes’ policy deemed to be ‘slightly bonkers’ by councils | Local Government Chronicle (LGC)

Jackie Weaver: You think my parish council meeting was heated? New ‘street votes’ could be much worse

Plans to give residents the power to hold referendums on their neighbours’ house extensions could result in “bribes in brown envelopes”, industry sources have warned…
“If the Government isn’t careful this policy risks paving the way for housing extensions becoming an exercise in bribery and brown envelopes with people buying off their neighbours to support their developments,” one industry insider told i.
The Royal Town Planning Institute has also raised doubts about the plans, warning the system of local referendums would need to be carefully regulated to mitigate the “risk of abuse”. Richard Blyth, Head of Policy at the RTPI added that while the votes could help reduce the need for development on greenfield land, he said “we remain wary of tension that street votes may cause among communities, where a considerable degree of acceptance will be required for approvals”.
But countryside charity the CPRE (formerly known by names such as the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and the Council for the Protection of Rural England) criticised the plans, insisting they will do little to help ease the housing crisis. Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy, said: “Street votes are likely to make existing houses larger and less affordable unless guarantees are built in.”

Fears of neighbourhood ‘bribes’ over planning reforms that would let residents vote on house extensions

   
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