11 Jan 2013

New proposals to strengthen communities

Could improvements incl improved community meeting spaces?
At a Planning Advisory Panel meeting this week councillors got to discuss an innovative proposal to encourage towns and parishes to build affordable homes for their communities. I was unable to attend due to another commitment (also missed Parish thatw as also this evening) - but I have followed this development with interest.

The proposed Community Infrastructure Reward Scheme aims to provide funding for local infrastructure projects where affordable homes are built - these could include recreation facilities, building improvement projects, community shops, allotments, land purchases and energy efficiency investments.

Here's what Councillor Dennis Andrewartha, executive member for planning for Stroud District Council, said in the news release: 'The aim of the policy is to add vitality to our local communities. For example a small housing development put forward by a parish, which included affordable homes, could then attract funding from us for a local park, play area or even public transport improvements.'

The council has already put aside £350,000 for the start of such a scheme and it is hoped that in the long term it could be funded by the New Homes Bonus. It would apply to areas with populations under 3,000 so both Parishes in this ward look set to be a part of this scheme although we will need to await confirmation. The affordable homes would also be prioritised for people with a connection to the area.

In the past this area has tried to identify affordable housing need - this policy would help - and works in a similar way to how larger scale developments, such as Hunts Grove and Littlecombe, draw in infrastructure payments from large developers.

Of course there is also an underlying agenda that more houses are needed in the District - and there are targets to meet but this approach seems an excellent way to provide a carrot - but also a carrot that focuses on affordable housing and could help build more sustainable communities.

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