Rural communities in England will be able to build homes without planning permission under plans announced by the government
Under the Right to Build scheme, villages will be able to create local housing trusts and put forward plans for small-scale affordable housing schemes, which are expected to number fewer than 20 homes.
A referendum would then be held to consider the plans, with a large majority required to secure approval.
The initiative is intended to help people who are being squeezed out of the communities they grew up in due to rising house prices and forms a part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘big society’ drive to hand more power back to local areas.
The plans have been criticised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which says development decisions, particularly in the Green Belt, should be taken by those who are democratically accountable.
Housing minister Grant Shapps said: ‘Loads of people in village communities are saying, ‘Our school’s closing, our post offices are under threat, we’re losing our community facilities.Our problem is that the young people grow up and find they can’t afford to live in this village any more. We believe that people have a right to stay in their community and if people want to build that community to make it a bit bigger and expand it a bit, within reason, they should have the powers to do that.’