Sustainable Communities Act – some good news

Steve Shaw, National Co-ordinator of Local Works provides an update on some positive things to come from the Sustainable Communities Act:

A lot is happening right now around the Sustainable Communities Act. Below is a brief update for you. I have made a big effort to keep it as short as possible. It should take you about 5 minutes to read.

First ‘round’ of the Sustainable Communities Act completed

Good news! – the government has completed its negotiations with the Selector (currently the LGA) to reach agreement on the 199 shortlisted proposals made so far under the Act.

So far, the Act has inspired real change and seeded the potential for much more. There are some great successes, here are six examples:

  • Government will make it easier to introduce renewable energy schemes by introducing permitted development rights for small scale renewable and microgeneration energy.
  • Government has amended the planning rules to exclude gardens from the classification of ‘previously developed land’.
  • Government will ban the sale of alcohol below cost price, this will prevent supermarkets selling alcohol below a certain price floor.
  • Government will give councils the power to offer discretionary business rate relief to encourage and sustain small and medium sized local businesses.
  • Government have given Sheffield City Council more responsibility to maintain and sustain the local Post Office network. A pilot scheme has been set up where Post Office Ltd and Sheffield City Council are working together to establish additional service provision and the scope for greater use of Post Offices in the city to deliver Council services. Government have said if the scheme works well it will be extended to Doncaster and Liverpool.
  • Government will legislate to establish a community right of purchase which will allow communities to bid to take over local assets. A moratorium on the sale of listed assets will give community groups time to prepare a bid.

Overall there are a significant number of proposals that the government have either agreed to implement directly, or have agreed to compromise on by taking action that would address the aim of the proposal.

The government’s response to each proposal can be viewed here:
http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/scadecisions

So the first round was good given that this is a radical and new process. There is there is much room for improvement – we believe the government could have gone further on some proposals that it said no to. However, there is now an exciting new opportunity…

Second invite for proposals launched!

The government has now invited more proposals under the Act. This second invite is very exciting for two reasons:

  1. Community groups and Parish and Town Councils can now submit proposals directly to government as well as Borough/District/City/County Councils!
  2. There is no deadline for submitting proposals, instead the process is now ongoing as a ‘rolling programme’.

So community groups and all councils can now submit new proposals to government or even resubmit previous rejected proposals with new arguments and evidence.

The government has created a ‘Barrier Busting’ website that community groups and councils can use to submit their proposals under the Act:
http://barrierbusting.communities.gov.uk

Ensuring Councils engage with their communities: Local Works Best Practice Guide published

Councils that use the Act to submit proposals to government must first engage their communities and ‘try and reach agreement with them’ on what proposals they will submit.

Some councils did this very well during the first round of the Act. Local Works have published a Best Practice Guide showing some of these great examples. You can use it to help ensure your councils do a good job of involving local people too.

Download the best practice guide here:
http://www.localworks.org/files/localworks.org/SCA_Best_Practice_Guide_for_Councils.pdf

Thanks for reading this update. If you want more detail on any of the above please contact me or go to www.localworks.org.

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