Let neighbours vote to redesign their streets, urges think tank

“Three Homes” Jenrick welcomes a report proposing suburban home-owners vote to demolish their street and rebuild in the Georgian style.

Could Exmouth become the new Sidmouth? – Owl

By Tony Diver, Political Correspondent www.telegraph.co.uk 

Homeowners in streets of bungalows or detached houses should be allowed to vote to turn their roads into Georgian-style terraces, a new report has argued.

The paper, from the Policy Exchange think tank, calls for local planning decisions to be devolved to individual streets, allowing residents to redesign their homes alongside their neighbours.

It argues that to solve the housing crisis the Government should increase housing density by allowing local people to choose to replace sparsely-built homes with terraced properties, which could be built in popular Victorian or Georgian styles.

The report’s authors say the democratic “street plan” proposal would also increase the value of residents’ homes.

Street plans would also allow local residents to agree on parking, contributions to local authorities and building heights, while the think tank said increased building work would provide a boost to the economy as the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end.

New planning rules for the street could be imposed if more than 60 per cent of residents voted for them, the think tank suggested.

The report’s findings were cautiously welcomed by Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, who said the Government “supports enabling communities to set their own rules for what developments in their area should look like” and “ensuring that they reflect and enhance their surroundings and preserve our cherished local heritage”.

The Government’s own White Paper for planning reform raised the prospect of “very small areas” like individual streets having their own planning rules.

Calculations suggest that the average homeowner who took up the scheme and remodelled their street could make hundreds of thousands of pounds, because the new properties would be more valuable.

Today’s report says the areas most likely to increase the value of homes with such a scheme are London suburbs, including Barnet, Harrow, Croydon and Bromley.

St Albans and Brighton and Hove could also benefit from the plans, Policy Exchange said.

Christopher Boyle, Chairman of the Georgian Group, a charity promoting Georgian architecture, said: “This is an excellent proposal, which could make an immense contribution to resolving the housing shortage. 

“When land values rose during the Georgian era, they built up, bequeathing us many of our most prized streets. 

“This powerful and sophisticated proposal offers a way of doing this again, letting us create beautiful streets that we treasure for centuries.”

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