Awards for All gets bigger

Awards for All, the Big Lottery small grants scheme, has announced some important changes.

In the past, groups receiving funding have only be eligible for one grant every two years.  That’s been changed so that groups can receive up to £10,000 every year.

In addition, smaller groups (i.e. those with accounts showing income of less than £30,000 / year) can now apply for funding for repeat and regular activities, as well as new activities.

All good news!

For more details, go to www.awardsforall.org.uk

Cash for Houses

This from DCLG. Not sure if it is desperation, empowerment or what, but it is clear that the move is towards greater benefits for growth areas (especially edge of city) while more remote and undeveloped areas will lose out when it comes to funding “to re-roof a village hall, refurbish a municipal pool or take over a community pub”.

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Communities to receive cash boost for choosing development

10 January 2013

Communities that tackle the legacy of inadequate house-building and choose to accept new housing will benefit directly from generous cash incentives, Planning Minister Nick Boles has announced.

Neighbourhoods that take a proactive approach by drawing up a neighbourhood development plan, and securing the consent of local people in a referendum, will receive 25 percent of the revenues from the Community Infrastructure Levy arising from the development that they choose to accept.

This cash boost will be paid directly to parish and town councils and can be used to back the community’s priorities – for example to re-roof a village hall, refurbish a municipal pool or take over a community pub.

Neighbourhoods without a neighbourhood development plan but where the levy is still charged will still receive a capped 15 percent share of the levy revenue arising from development in their area.

Communities without a parish or town council will still benefit from this incentive, with the local planning authority retaining it and spending it in accordance with the wishes of the community.

The Coalition Government believes that communities need to be persuaded that development is in everyone’s interest and that incentives are key to getting the homes built that we both need for today and for future generations.

The Government has also made clear that planning should encourage the effective use of land, including brownfield land that is not of high environmental value. The majority of all new homes – 76 per cent of those completed in 2010 – were built on brownfield land. But this will not be enough and the Government says some undeveloped (aka greenfield – ed) land will need to be made available for house-building.

Nick Boles said: “This Government is determined to persuade (force? – ed) communities to accept more house-building by giving them a tangible share of the benefits it brings.

“By undertaking a neighbourhood plan that makes space for new development, communities can secure revenues to make the community more attractive for everyone.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/communities-to-receive-cash-boost-for-choosing-development

More funding for neighbourhood plans

The government has announced £17m of additional funding over the next two years for neighbourhood planning.

From 2 January 2013 local planning authorities are able to claim up to a maximum of £50,000 (up from £20,000) for up to 10 area designations (applies to 2012/13).

From 1 April 2013 local planning authorities will be able to claim for up to 20 designations (£100,000) in the financial year 2013 to 2014.

In total, local planning authorities can claim up to £30,000 for each neighbourhood plan.  (This is £10,000 more than was received by the first front runners announced in May 2011). The first payment of £5,000 will be made following designation of a neighbourhood area recognising the officer time supporting and advising the community in taking forward a neighbourhood plan. The second payment of £5,000 will be made when the local planning authority publicises the neighbourhood plan prior to examination. The third payment of £20,000 will be made on successful completion of the neighbourhood planning examination.

This money recognises the duties that local authorities have in relation to neighbourhood planning. These are to: provide advice and assistance; to hold an examination; and to make arrangements for a referendum.

Woolavington and Puriton get Big Local Million

The lucky people of Woolavington and Puriton have today heard that they are to receive over £1m from Big Local Trust. Along with 49 other communities in England they will receive the Big Lottery funding of over the next 10 years.  Each community is given a ‘Big Local Rep‘ to work with, and the lucky people of Woolavington and Puriton (near Bridgwater) have me!

Big Local is about bringing together all the local talent, ambitions, skills and energy from individuals, groups and organisations who want to make their area an even better place to live. Residents will identify the issues in their areas that they want to address and work together to put a plan together for how they will do this.

The four programme outcomes for Big Local are:

  1. Communities will be better able to identify local needs and take action in response to them.
  2. People will have increased skills and confidence, so that they continue to identify and respond to needs in the future.
  3. The community will make a difference to the needs it prioritises.
  4. People will feel that their area is an even better place to live.

I’ll be heading over to Woolavington and Puriton later today to start talking.  If you’re from Woolavington or Puriton and want to know more, do get in touch.

Businesses to get a vote on Neighbourhood Plans

The Localism Act 2011 gives local communities a far greater say on planning, enabling them to take a bigger role in shaping their local areas through Neighbourhood Plans and Neighbourhood Development Orders.

But a little known provision in the Act (Schedule 10 S.15 (3)) also gives businesses a vote in the referendum that will decide whether these plans or orders come into effect.  Business referendums will only happen in areas which are wholly or predominantly commercial in character (as defined by the local council under S.61H), but clearly raise many issues:

  • Will it be one business one vote or will big businesses get more than one vote? It seems to suggest it is one vote per business address.
  • What happens if a town centre plan developed and supported by local businesses gets voted down by local residents?  It doesn’t stop them applying for planning permission in the traditional way, but it sets up a significant tension.
  • What happens if a plan popular with residents is voted down by businesses owned by corporations based far away?  Maybe unlikely given that the corporations will only have one vote each, but you never know!

This is untested water, for businesses have never before been given a vote alongside residents on the electoral role.  But I’m not sure how much work has actually been put into considering how it will function, or how the contradictions are going to be resolved.

Big Local Lottery

Pleased to say that I’ve been appointed as a Big Local Rep.  Big Local is a Lottery funded programme to invest £1m over 10 years in 150 communities in England.  The programme is very much about communities making decisions for themselves about how to spend the money, and the role of the Rep is to support, facilitate and oversee the process.  There are 70 Reps across the country, with other local appointments including Dominic Murphy (of Creating Excellence) and Sophie Cowdell (of Common Places).

Some Big Local areas are already up and running, and I’ve been asked to pick up support for Radstock and Westfield.  Also going to be working on one of the “Wave 3” communities, but sworn to secrecy on which one until after the official announcement on 10 December.

Neighbourhood Planning – the private sector view

Interesting perspective from Alder King on neighbourhood planning:

“a critical flaw in the process is the need for a Neighbourhood Plan to be adopted following a referendum at the end of the planning process. Placing such a critical hurdle at the end of what will be a costly and protracted process will we suspect deter community groups from taking part. Furthermore, on the basis that any Neighbourhood Plan must maintain conformity with Local Plans, and therefore cannot be used as a means to challenge development, again may deter community groups from engaging with the neighbourhood planning process….. There is a real risk that the only sectors of the community able to engage in the process will be those who have the deepest pockets and the ability to shout the loudest.”

Find the full article at Property News.

Carriageworks CPO given go-ahead

Yesterday Bristol City Council gave the go-ahead to start compulsory purchase proceedings on the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House on Stokes Croft.

The CPO process is supported by the Community Vision which 2MD facilitated.  Speaking at the Council’s Cabinet meeting, Cllr Anthony Negus described the vision as “encouraging and stimulating” and containing “not just pie in the sky but very very practical ways forward”.  He said that the Vision was “a model of consultation and engagement” in Bristol and that he commended everyone who had been involved. “I hope we learn by this process; the City will benefit by all of this”.

Cllr Jon Rogers went on to thank Lori, Simon, Julian and Hugh by name and added that it had been “a tremendous consultation not witnessed before…. The process was one that is inspiring”.

That’s a nice way to start the long weekend!