New plans to convert derelict buildings and vacant plots of land into new home and community spaces have been announced by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
The new ‘Right to Regenerate’ proposals would make it easier for those wanting to make conversions to challenge councils and other public organisations to release the land for redevelopment, This, in turn, would help communities make better use of public land and give a new lease of live to unloved buildings and derelict land.
Land that is underused would also be sold off to individuals or communities by default, unless there was a compelling reason why the owner should hold onto it. Under these proposals, public bodies would need to have clear plans for the land in the near future. If the land is kept for too long without being used, then they would be required to sell it.
The measures also provide opportunities for the public and local communities to redevelop and transform land that would otherwise be unused. These new plans also build on the UK Government’s drive to encourage development on brownfield land and create more beautiful buildings which are in line with local preferences.
The strengthened rights would also apply to unused publicly owned social housing and garages providing opportunities to transform the local housing stock. The latest figures show there were over 25,000 vacant council-owned homes and, according to recent FOI data, over 100,000 empty council-owned garages last year.
The new process will be fast and simple, and the Secretary of State will act as an arbiter to ensure fairness and speedy outcomes in all cases.
Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “Right to Regenerate is the simple way to turn public land into public good, with land sold by default, unless there is a very compelling reason not to do so.
“We are cutting through red tape so that communities can make better use of available land and derelict buildings, which means more new homes, businesses and community assets.
“Millions of people will now be able to buy that empty property, unused garage or parcel of land and turn it into something good for them and their community.”
Tom Chance, Chief Executive of the National Community Land Trust Network, said: “We welcome these plans that could help communities to turn abandoned and neglected land and buildings into fantastic community assets.
“There are hundreds of community land trusts across the country wanting to build much needed affordable housing, but getting hold of land at an affordable price is a huge barrier.
“The potential for communities to be given first right of refusal could be a gamechanger. We encourage everyone to read through the proposals and respond to the consultation.”
The consultation opened on Saturday 16th January 2021, and closes on 13th March.
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