Street Votes FAQ

Empowering communities for more and better housing

Street votes are a new, non-partisan idea to empower communities to say yes to the right housing where they wish. They are meant as a supplement to the existing planning system. The idea is that residents on individual streets could jointly propose rules on the design of extensions or other construction on their street. If they wish, they could allow more extensions of a particular design, or more ambitious development.

What are street votes?

Street votes are a new, non-partisan idea to empower communities to say yes to the right quality of housing where they wish. They are meant as a supplement to the existing planning system. The idea is that residents on individual streets could jointly propose rules on the design of extensions or other construction on their street. If they wish, they could allow more extensions of a particular design, or more ambitious development.

Street votes would be a simpler and more local addition to the existing ‘neighbourhood planning’ system, which is very popular.

The Government has recently expressed its intention to try street votes.

Who supports street votes?

Trials of street votes have been suggested by an enormously wide range of community and renters’ groups, environmental organisations, planners, architects, and politicians from all major parties. You can see more names at yimbyalliance.org/streetplans  

How does this affect me?

If you own a house built after 1918 that is not in a national park, an area of outstanding natural beauty or a site of special scientific interest then your street may become eligible for a street vote. You can sign up free below if you want us to let you know if the Government decides to run a pilot scheme.

What do street votes allow?

Street votes could allow your street, if there is widespread support, to agree to allow particular types of home extension of certain designs. If you want to be more ambitious, your street could potentially agree to allow each homeowner to do more with their plot, for example by adding an additional home for their family.

How does a street vote work?

Working with a local architect or builder, a group of street residents can make a proposal. That group must be at least one-fifth of the residents on a street, or residents from ten different homes, whichever is more. If the proposal is valid under the rules, it is put to a vote of the residents on the street. If two-thirds of them agree (plus other conditions), the proposal is passed, and each homeowner gains a permanent planning permission for that proposal.

When will street votes happen?

We hope that the government will run a pilot scheme of street votes in about a year. If you would like us to let you know when the pilot scheme is launched, please sign up for free below.

I'm a tenant, how does this affect me?

Tenants who have registered to vote in elections have the right to vote on street plans just like any other residents. In addition, the rules for street votes proposed in Strong Suburbs, which were backed by Generation Rent and PricedOut UK, provide for generous compensation for tenants if a street vote is passed and their landlord decides to develop the property.

What about social housing?

The land value uplift from street votes will be shared with the local authority. They can use that to fund additional social housing. 

Street votes have also been supported by senior figures at housing associations, as a means for their tenants to decide on improvements to where they live.

Won't street votes just give power to big developers?

The idea of street votes is the opposite: to help local people create more work for small and medium sized builders. The big sites released under the current planning system are only suitable for big developers.

Does this mean the neighbours get to vote on my extension?

Unlike what you might have read in some confused media reports, street votes do not mean that the neighbours get to vote on your application for an extension.

Street votes do not affect the normal process of applying for planning permission. They are just a supplemental way for some streets to decide to allow more, if there is overwhelming support among residents.

Will this affect the countryside?

By allowing more homes with local support within existing towns and cities, street votes are designed to help to relieve pressure on the countryside.

Will street votes cause harmful development?

Street votes will only give additional permissions for development where it is strongly supported by local people because it will benefit their community.

What about pressure on local services?

Rather than big developments creating pressure all at once, street votes should encourage organic and gentle development that happens over time, with a generous share of the land value uplift going to local authorities to ensure proper provision of local services. There are also careful rules to prevent parking and other congestion.

What can I do to help?

Please sign up for updates below and email your MP asking them to support street votes. You can find the email address for your MP here: https://members.parliament.uk/members/commons

How can I find out more?

You can find out more by signing up below for our free updates. You can also read a detailed suggestion for street votes, which may be different to the one the government adopts, in the Strong Suburbs report. You can also find out more at streetvotes.org.

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