What is it?

The ‘community right to build’ is a way for communities to propose and take responsibility for development in their area and receive permission for it without having to go through the traditional planning process. Instead, the plans are passed to an independent examiner to ensure they don’t contravene any other legal orders. If the plans make it through this stage they are then put to a community referendum. Proposals can include anything from new housing to shops, community facilities or playgrounds.

The community right to build has, however, been described as complicated, adversarial and risky with some nine out of ten community groups opting instead to go through the traditional planning permission process.

Who’s doing it?

Totnes: Building affordable homes and workspace on derelict land

The Totnes Community Development Society is one of the first organisations to use the ‘community right to build’ order since it came into force in 2012. It is using the order to get permission for its plans for Atmos Totnes – a mixed development of affordable homes, businesses and workspaces on the former Dairy Crest site next to Totnes train station.

The community right to build order for Atmos Totnes was made by South Hams District Council on the 1st of March, following the referendum on the order on 23rd November 2016. At that referendum 85.69% of those voting in the local community voted ‘yes’ on if the order should be granted planning permission.

Atmos Totnes is the first project to be led by the Totnes community development society, an Industrial and Provident Society committed to pioneering community-led development in a way rooted in local economies.

  • Read more of their story here.


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