THE PUBLIC will soon get the right to buy up crumbling old council buildings and turn them into new homes or booming businesses under fresh plans.
In the spirit of Margaret Thatcher's 'Right to Buy', a new 'right to regenerate' scheme will force local authorities and public bodies to sell unused land and derelict buildings if it's requested by members of the local community.
The plan will rip up red tape to help try to solve Britain's housing crisis, rather than destroying valuable greenbelt land.
The land could be ex-council housing, garages, or overgrown plots – to be sold to individuals or communities to do what they want with it.
And those who put the requests in will be first in line to buy it themselves.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said today: “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.”
Under the proposals, the owner of the land would need to have clear plans for land in the near future – meaning they can't hold on to it forever without using it.
If the land is kept for too long without being used, they would be required to sell it again.
The exact length of time and definition of what is underused land will be decided in the upcoming consultation.
The new process will be faster and more simple, and the Secretary of State will be able to make final decisions on any disputes. Applications will be available for everyone to see online.
Tom Chance, Chief Executive of the National Community Land Trust Network, said the plans could be a "game-changer"
He said: "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."
Figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government showed there were over 25,000 vacant council owned homes and 100,000 empty council-owned garages last year.
‘Let’s maximise brownfield land’
By Robert Jenrick, Housing Secretary
Is there an empty house, an unused garage or derelict plot of land near you that’s owned by the Government or a local council?
Could you make better use of it, turning it into a home, a business or an asset to your community?
Well today, we’re helping you cut right through the red tape and do just that.
We’re all familiar with Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy for council houses, now we’re creating the Right to Regenerate – the simple way to turn public land in England into public good.
Fill in a simple standard form, give the council or other public sector landowner an opportunity to make an argument against sale, and if there isn’t one, you get first refusal to buy it at market price.
Any disputes will be arbitrated speedily and fairly by my Housing Department.
We’re consulting to iron out the policy and then will make it happen, so get scanning your local area for underused land and assets now.
Not enough homes have been built in this country over previous decades – something that this Government is putting right.
None of us want to build on the countryside, so let’s maximise brownfield land and where it is being wasted, make it available to the people.
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