Social value should be at the heart of the new ‘Right to Regenerate’

Thursday 11 March 2021

We have just submitted our response to the government’s ‘Right to Regenerate’ consultation, which sets out plans to make it easier for communities to buy underused publicly owned land and derelict buildings.

Read our final response here (PDF).

The most important aspects of the Government’s proposals for CLTs are:

  • The public to have the ‘first right of refusal’ to purchase underused land they identify
  • Land would be sold by default unless there was a compelling reason against it
  • An easier process for the public to transform vacant land and derelict buildings into homes or community spaces

We have cautiously welcomed these proposals, which could make it easier for community led housing groups to access sites to build the affordable housing the county needs.

We especially champion the proposal of a “first right of refusal" for community led housing groups and other truly community based organisations. This would align the right with the Government’s stated ambition to diversify the housebuilding industry. The National CLT Network fed into discussions ahead of the consultation, including proposing the ‘first right of refusal’ for communities. In late 2019 the Network launched its manifesto, which called on the government to introduce a Community Right to Buy to give CLTs first refusal on land and buildings and to be able to secure land at an affordable price.

We welcome these plans so long as they put social value at the heart of decision making and site valuations. We believe public land should only be sold off where it will be used to promote the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of the community. The price of property sold under this right should reflect national and local planning policy, local asset strategies and the government's stated commitments to social, economic and environmental returns to UK society. This would mean CLTs could buy the assets at prices that make affordable housing viable, for example.

We also call for the right to be widened to privately owned land that is causing a detriment to local wellbeing. In many parts of the country this is a bigger problem than publicly owned land, and some landowners are unwilling to engage with communities to find creative solutions to end the blight that their land or buildings cause. This would have a transformative effect, particularly in left behind areas.

We've been pleased to discuss these proposals with our members as well as Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), the New Economics Foundation (NEF), Power to Change, the National Custom & Self Build Association (NaCSBA) and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) over the past 6 weeks. 

Please email us at info@communitylandtrusts.org.uk with any questions about our response.

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