The government has launched a new community rights microsite that offers a range of support to help local community groups.
Launched on 5 April, Community Rights' aim is to “give power to communities to support their neighbourhoods”. It does this through a mixture of advice, support resources, case studies and regular news updates.
The site hopes to inspire people to take ownership of their local area, with guides on how to run a local service (such as maintain a local park, keep local streets clean, recycle household furniture or run a community centre); shape local development (by developing a plan for the neighbourhood and granting planning permission for local homes, shops or community facilities); and taking over a local building, which could be the village shop, a community or children’s centre, a library or the local pub.
A range of changing community rights and what they mean for citizens are also explained on the site. The Community Right to Build has already come into effect, and “gives communities new powers to build local housing, shops and community facilities.” It can be used by members of a community who have joined together in a formal organisation that meets the required standards.
The Community Right to Challenge is expected to come into effect in late May or June 2012 and could be used to run a wide range of local council services.
And the Community Right to Bid will give a community group the opportunity to bid for a local asset that is currently owned by the local council, other public body or a private company or individual. It is expected to come into effect this summer.
Also already in effect as of April 2012 and explained on the site is Neighbourhood Planning, which allows communities to create new buildings without going through the normal planning application process. The site suggests that a group, led by either the parish or town council or by a neighbourhood forum, could choose where new homes, shops and offices should be built, say what those new buildings should look like, or grant planning permission for new buildings that fit with its plan.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said that the Community Rights microsite was launched specifically to coincide with the Community Right to Build and Neighbourhood Planning provisions in the Localism Act coming into force.
"The site aims to inform groups about the new powers and opportunities available to them, and inspire them with stories of what others are doing and allowing them to find out what's happening in their local area," the spokesman said. "The site will continue to grow as more of the Rights come into force."