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Communities back local house building plans

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced Thame in Oxfordshire and St James near Exeter have become just the second and third communities to vote 'yes' to neighbourhood planning proposals.

Residents of Thame came out in favour of the construction of 775 new homes, linked to the town via a new pedestrian area. The vote saw a 40 per cent turnout and was passed by 76 per cent of those in attendance.

Meanwhile, 92 per cent of voters were in favour of the developments put forward for St James, which will act as a "springboard for improvements to the local environment" and see considerable green investment in the area over the coming years.

The turnout in St James was not as strong, however, with just 21 per cent of the local community placing their vote.

"Neighbourhood planning is an incredibly important new right that provides a real opportunity to deliver the homes, shops and facilities people want," commented planning minister Nick Boles.

"I would urge others to join the hundreds of communities around the country that are already looking to reap the many benefits from having a neighbourhood plan."

Community rights minister Don Foster added that the news comes just weeks after the first neighbourhood planning proposals in the UK were ratified by the residents of Cumbria, with the government now keen to provide further funding and support to help communities make their individual planning dreams a reality.

The news follows the recent announcement that the DCLG and the Home Office are set to merge in the coming months, with the resulting body to be transferred to a single headquarters in order to reduce costs.

DCLG will move from its current premises at Eland Road to the new 2 Marsham Street building, with the resulting collaboration to deliver taxpayer savings of up to £24 million per annum. 

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