Communities offered £17m cash boost


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Communities in England were today offered £17 million to help them take advantage of a new scheme allowing them to build facilities like family homes, shops, children's playgrounds and community halls.

Housing minister Grant Shapps offered an "early bird bonus" worth £2,000 to areas which get their plans in by the end of March 2013.

The Community Right To Build scheme was introduced in last year's Localism Act, allowing local people to avoid the planning application process by getting more than 50% support in a referendum.

The £17 million fund announced today will be run by the Homes and Communities Agency.

The money is intended to cover the cost of preparing a submission for a Community Right to Build Order, but cannot be used to pay for acquiring land or constructing buildings. It will be available to all English communities outside London between 2012 and 2015.

Mr Shapps said: "For too long, communities have had to use their energy fighting development they didn't want rather then putting it to use bringing about the homes, shops and facilities they did.

"The Community Right to Build completely changes that and puts communities in the driving seat by ensuring they can bring about the development their neighbourhood needs.

"The funding and advice service being offered will provide a big boost to those communities eager to take up their right and bring about change to their area. I would urge all communities to make use of this support to ensure they have the best chance to thrive in the future."

Advice and support on the scheme will be offered by the charity Locality, whose chief executive Steve Wyler said it presented "incredible opportunities for people to have a greater stake in their area".

"If you can see the potential of new buildings for community benefit we're here to help, support you through the process and make things happen, enhancing local pride and prosperity," said Mr Wyler.