Is there a clause under current planning law that can allow local authorities to limit the development and sale of properties to local residents?

I am looking to provide input to my Parish and Local Council’s Neighbourhood Plan with a view to getting recognition for self builders within the area. Following a recent exhibition by the Parish Council, it appears that the Parish and Local Council are prepared to allow a portion of agricultural land bordering my village to be developed within the next five years. The proposed land is far too big for an individual to hope to purchase and I would like to form a not for profit organisation of self builders to group purchase and then apply for planning. Following some recent bland and high density corporate developments in the area, I believe that such a group would be a preferable choice to develop the land and would have interests more in keeping with the historic village that it would become a part of.

To attempt to de-risk any group purchase, I am looking for ways in which such a development could actively work with the local Parish Council. Thinking back a couple of years to a past planning application that I submitted, I seem to remember the local planning office mentioning some clause that could allow Parish Councils to limit development and/or sale of properties to residents who could prove a link to the local area. At the time I thought nothing of this however looking ahead, if this is true, this could greatly assist local self builders realising their dream. Therefore, is there such a clause in planning regulation that can allow properties to only be sold or owned by local residents? Or residents that can prove a link to the local community? If so, what would this link be – a local business? A number of years living in the area? Children at local schools? Finally, if this clause does exist, can it be applied to development land and for self builders?

Many Thanks

Stuart Kirbell

  • Nigel Lewis

    This idea and your sentiments have to be applauded. The concept is along the lines of the proactive approach taken by German local authorities towards self building that I referred to in response to another question regarding the availability of plots.

    I can’t help you with the wording of such a policy or advise whether it would be legal, but you are likely to come under pressure from the land owner if you try and implement it. It is a case of supply and demand. If you limit the available pool of people who could buy the plots the land will not be worth so much. If the resale value of the plots of land are cheaper than the going rate on the open market you are also likely to get people to start renting in the area simply to be in the right catchment area, as happens now in neighbourhoods with good schools. You are right to question the selection criteria.

    I would bounce the idea off of the Council Officers and ask them to look into the legality and framework of introducing such a policy. You only need come up with the ideas and get the paid staff to make it work.

  • Jeremy Murfitt

    You need to think about the likely chronology of events. You will want to (ideally) tie up the land before you start the planning process, say by means of an option. The seller and buyer will need to define in that agreement the method of valuing the land and the seller may stipulate a minimum price. You have to work on the assumption that the landowner in most cases will want to maximise the value of the land which may mean higher densities.

    Having tied up the land the planning process gets underway and let’s say that a consent is forthcoming. One way to restrict who occupies would be via a legal obligation but I guess the drafting could be tricky and very hard to control. As Nigel says any restriction could reduce value. Also the planners themselves may not believe an obligation is either suitable or practical. Loads of issues, how do you control future sales, how do you define a "local", what if the owner lets the house?

    A final thought you need to think through is site layout and infrastructure. I personally was involved in a similar scheme a couple of years ago. On this site we potentially had a number of plots which needed a new road to service the plots, expenditure on sewage treatment, upgrading a power supply and S106 costs relating to education and medical provision. You will need to recover these costs from the sale of the plots. In the end the land was sold to a major house builder.

    However good luck, it is something I would love to do myself.



  • Stephen Margerison

    simply put the answer is YES !! councils CAN (and do) restrict land to "locals" try the Westmorland gazette, and try buying land in the Lake district. Locals only have fun Stephen

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