Developers should give residents shares in neighbourhood projects, urges think tank

Residents could negotiate terms of local developments thought the new Neighbourhood Forums, says report from ResPublica and The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Neighbourhood Planning rights should be used by local communities to lead on developments on their own terms, a new report from think tank ResPublica and the RIBA urges today.

Re-thinking Neighbourhood Planning: From consultation to collaboration calls for greater formal recognition of community priorities and requirements in the planning process, which would include social aspirations, environmental values and financial stakes.

Launched today by Minister for Local Government Greg Clark MP, the ResPublica and RIBA report says that neighbourhood planning should be led by the values of local people.

Residents should be able to decide their local priorities in a collaborative process enabled by experts such as architects, together with local businesses, developers and the local authority, and formalised in a ‘Neighbourhood Value Agreement’.

The report urges government to consider the potential for a 'Community Right to Invest in Real Estate' and recommends a consultation should be carried out into how local communities can capitalise on future gains of the property development sector.

The report is critical of past neighbourhood consultation processes, which it describes as 'tokenistic' and ‘tickbox exercises'. To avoid frustration and distrust in planning objectives from local residents, the report advocates a process which involves support and advice for communities from impartial experts.

The report also says that successful place-making and participation in the planning process can be 'captured' in terms of public savings on costs associated with anti-social behaviour and community fragmentation.

The ResPublica and RIBA report, recommends that:

  • The benefits of good design and meaningful community engagement should be recognised as a measurable social outcome
  • Government should appoint an independent panel of experts to define the metrics and structures required to capture the social value created though the neighbourhood planning process
  • An evidence base from Local Authorities should be used by the Government in order to extend the 'community budgets' programme and to create a new ‘Total Neighbourhood’ approach
  • The government should make a 'Neighbourhood Partnership Agreement' between residents, local business, local authorities, developers, and design professionals a statutory requirement for every Neighbourhood Plan

Phillip Blond, Director of ResPublica, said today:

'The Localism Act presents some unprecedented opportunities for communities to engage in local activism. In particular, neighbourhood planning can present a turning point for community led development and design. Still, it is only by engaging communities in a genuine, meaningful, collaboration and partnership - rather than a formulaic consultation - that the potential of neighbourhood planning can be fulfilled. Through such a meaningful partnership, we can push forward a more radical localism, with a sense of empowerment really felt across communities. This community empowerment can lead to even more robust forms of local control through extending community ownership and opening up the possibility for communities to invest in real estate.'

Harry Rich, RIBA Chief Executive said:

'The costs of bad planning and design are vast. Meaningful community-led planning helps to achieve better design solutions with greater social and economic value and this will only happen through skilled collaboration between communities and design professionals, such as architects. As this report clearly sets out, more support and funding changes will be needed to pave the way if the government's Localism aspirations are to become an achievable reality.'

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • Copies of the report (produced by ResPublica in association with the RIBA) are available to download here
  • Press/broadcast interviews with the report author Dr Patricia Kaszynska are available on request from press@respublica.org.uk
  • The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members. Visit www.architecture.com and follow us at www.twitter.com/RIBA
  • About ResPublica (The ResPublica Trust) ResPublica is an independent, non-partisan UK think tank founded by Phillip Blond in November 2009. In July 2011, the ResPublica Trust was established as a not-for-profit entity which oversees all of ResPublica's domestic work. We focus on developing practical solutions to enduring socio-economic and cultural problems of our time, such as poverty, asset inequality, family and social breakdown, and environmental degradation. Our research combines a radical, civic philosophy with the latest insights in social and economic policy analysis to produce original, implementable solutions. We would like to foster new approaches to economic inequality, investment and group behaviour, so that the benefits of capital, trade and entrepreneurship are open to all. Our work is based on the premise that human relationships should once more be the centre and meaning of an associative society, and that we need to recover the language and practice of the common good. Consequently our ideas seek to strengthen the links between local individuals, organisations and communities that create social capital.
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