Public bodies will be able to convert vacant plots of land and derelict buildings into new homes or community spaces, under plans announced by the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick
Under the ‘Right to Regenerate’ proposals, public bodies would need to have clear plans for land in the near future, even if only a temporary use before later development – if the land is kept for too long without being used, they would be required to sell it.
These measures provide an opportunity for the public and local communities to redevelop and transform eyesores, taking control of unused local land or buildings and transforming them into something they want in their area.
This builds on the government’s drive to encourage development on brownfield land and more beautiful buildings that 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 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.
In practice, this could mean if a member of the public had an unused plot of land at the back of their house owned by the council, they could use the new Right to Regenerate.
If the land was determined to be underused with no plans to bring it into use, it would be sold and the person making the request could have first right of refusal to purchase – enabling them to extend their garden, or for the community to come together to use the land in a beneficial way.
This could be a ‘gamechanger’
Housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, 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.”