Issue - meetings
Meeting: 02/03/2021 - Cabinet (Item 10)
- Appendix 1 for Right to Regenerate – Consultation Response draft, item 10 PDF 793 KB
- Webcast for Buckinghamshire Council Response to the Right to Regenerate Consultation
Cabinet were asked to consider Buckinghamshire Council’s proposed response to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Right to Regenerate consultation.
1) the draft response to the Right to Regenerate consultation be agreed; and
2) authority be delegated to the Corporate Director for Planning, Growth and Sustainability, in consultation with the relevant Cabinet Members and Leader of the Council, to submit the final response, incorporating any further changes after the Cabinet meeting.
The ‘Right to Contest’ allowed anyone – private citizen or organisation – to challenge the central government (strand 1) and other public bodies, including Local Authorities (strand 2) to sell land or property if they believe it’s not needed or could be put to better economic use. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) was currently consulting on proposals to reform to the Right to Contest, turning it into ‘The Right to Regenerate’, making the process more effective. The deadline to respond to the consultation was 13 March 2021.
M Tett, Leader of the Council, introduced the report which highlighted the context of the consultation and the emerging thoughts of Buckinghamshire Council’s response.
MHCLG was arguing that the reform of the Right to Contest would help to “encourage the public to drive regeneration and stimulate the more productive use of public land”. The reform particularly concerned Strand 2 of the Right to Contest, which allowed members of the public to request that government direct the disposal of unused or underused land owned by public bodies. The Right to Contest was little known and little used, with only one direction being issued since 2014. The proposed reforms were as follows:
- Increasing the usefulness and effectiveness of the right, taking into consideration how the reform could be used by private individuals and organisations.
- Making it clearer when land is unused or underused through the publication of a clear definition to help guide people making applications.
- Extending the scope of the right, questioning if including land owned by town and parish councils would increase the effectiveness of the right.
- If a public body has an intended use for the land in question, the government is considering incentivising temporary uses by ordering sales where temporary uses cannot be identified. This is suggested to help minimise blight until sites are put to better long-term use and help to keep neighbourhoods vibrant and productive especially in town centres and urban areas.
- To ensure a greater role for local authorities, anyone making a request under the right may be required to prove they have contacted their local authority, as the right to contest was designed to be a last resort.
- The ‘Presumption in Favour of Disposal’ reform questions if the Secretary of State should establish clearly that disposals will be ordered unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.
- To improve transparency around these requests, the government is considering requiring local authorities to: produce quarterly reports on the number of preliminary enquiries made, display physical and digital publicity where a request has been submitted for the release of a site, and publish all requests, together with their outcomes and reasoning online.
- If an application is successful, the government is considering offering the party who made the request first refusal.
- The Secretary of State had the power to specify in the direction, the terms and conditions, though this power had never been exercised. The government ... view the full minutes text for item 10