Today we are concentrating on the topic of “Improving the Planning System” for Rural Housing Week 2023.
CFO have chosen to focus on the work of a local group ‘Hook Norton Community Land Trust’ (HNCLT). This group ‘have generated an innovative community led project of affordable homes that will have a positive impact on the environment and be fit for the future.’
This project was initiated after a housing needs survey was carried out by Hook Norton Parish Council in 2012 that highlighted a need for smaller and more affordable housing enabling locals to stay living in the village.
The group located a potential site in the centre of the village that was owned by Cherwell District Council and approached them with their idea. Cherwell were keen to help support this unique idea to provide affordable and sustainable homes for people with a local connection. Following creative and lengthy negotiation between HNCLT and Cherwell District Council, they were able to obtain the land and planning permission to begin the process of building this new community in the heart of the village.
Charlie Luxton from the HNCLT states: “As we’ve witnessed with the Community-Led Hook Norton project, there is still enough latitude in the planning system to reward this approach and declarations of climate emergencies by local councils can only help. Therefore, the approach doesn’t have to result in a drop in investment returns and community-led, sustainable schemes can make financial sense”
Although this is a different approach to the usual planning procedure, it is one that has succeeded, one which is community-led, affordable and beneficial to locals. An example of how the planning system can be improved by residents pulling together and taking control of what happens within their rural communities.