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‘Street Votes’ must avoid friction with neighbours and planning processes to boost England’s housing supply

The RTPI has urged Government to further consider Street Vote guidance and policy to ensure they are accessible to the public and to help planners provide sufficient protection for residents, design, and heritage standards.

The success of Street Votes, a new way for groups of residents to get planning permission to build up their streets, will rely on the public’s ability to participate effectively and understand sometimes complex design and technical requirements.

If they are to work, the Institute states that the government must conduct pilot schemes to test Street Votes in real-world conditions and address any potential issues before they are implemented nationwide. Failing to address these requirements and safeguards before a wider roll-out could have a lasting negative impact on communities and undermine the credibility of Street Votes.

In its consultation response, released today, the RTPI suggests the Government should:

  • Issue guidance to ensure the Street Vote Development Order process is as simple and accessible for the general public and built environment professionals to engage with.
  • Uphold design and heritage standards (including Conservation Areas) to prevent Street Votes groups from negatively impacting their neighbours or damaging a street’s unique heritage value.
  • Manage the impact of development permitted through Street Votes on transport and other infrastructure and maintain the benefits that local and national planning policy gives communities including protections from flood risk, walking and cycling routes and heat networks.
  • Improve safeguards to protect residents from inappropriate influence and introduce effective time limits for permissions on development as applies to other forms of polls and public participation in planning.

The RTPI is looking at what further guidance it can provide for members of the public and planners on this new development route in England’s planning system.

Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the RTPI, said: “The concept of Street Votes to increase the housing supply in England shows potential, but it must be implemented with care and caution to avoid conflicts with neighbours and existing planning processes.

“The government should provide guidance that maintains the area's architectural and historical significance, manage the development's impact on the surroundings, and protect residents from any undue influence.”

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