Headlines: April 7th, 2010

Housing and Planning Minister John Healey has proposed giving parish councils planning powers to build affordable homes.

The proposals, which are yet to be consulted on, would allow a limited number of affordable homes to be built in villages without the need for individual planning applications, if the parish council backed the new homes.

The proposal is to extend ‘permitted development’ rights so that a maximum of 10-15 new affordable homes could be built when parish councils have set out clear evidence and design expectations.

Mr Healey said: “There is a real need for more affordable homes in rural communities, where the price of an average home is £40,000 higher than in towns and cities. A handful of new homes can make a huge difference to the life of rural villages and make local schools, pubs and shops more sustainable. My aim is to place more power with parish councils to see new homes built.”

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC), which represents town and parish councils said that it was “greatly encouraged” by the proposal.

Councillor Michael Chater, chairman of NALC, commented: “We believe this will allow local people to have a greater say in how they shape the future of their communities. It gives local (parish and town) councils the opportunity to follow the wishes of their residents and demonstrate community leadership in providing homes for people who would not otherwise have these opportunities.”