Give people up-your-street vote in postcode planning poll - think tank

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Residents should be allowed to vote on planning applications in their own roads in an overhaul of development laws, a think tank has suggested.

The right-wing Adam Smith Institute said people could be £10,000 a year better off in 15 years if enough homes were built "in the right places" owing to an improved economy.

A report, Yes In My Back Yard, proposes allowing development on "ugly or low amenity" green belt sites and devolving planning laws to metro mayors.

It said each of the ideas would individually make a "huge difference" and, if combined, could have a "transformative effect on the housing situation in Britain".

The paper said: "We have a housing crisis because no one has come up with a solution that is likely to get adopted by a politician with power.

"That is the only way to get real action.

"We propose three policies that would hand power back to residents; ways of solving the housing crisis that will also win political parties votes."

On the idea to allow locals to vote on new developments, the report said: "How can we use the fact that new low or mid-rise development mainly affects neighbours on the same street?

"The easiest way is to let individual streets decide to give themselves additional rights to extend or replace existing buildings.

"That would, over an extended period, allow at least five million more homes in London alone.

"Large swathes of London and other cities are covered with low-rise, often unexceptional, 20th-century houses, and half of London's homes are in buildings of just one or two floors."

It said that the system could be improved by allowing buildings to be extended or replaced with local backing.

"A typical suburban plot can often easily generate a fivefold increase in dwelling space. Older buildings may also benefit from graceful extension," it said.

"If residents are asked whether every house on their street should be allowed to add one or two floors, the good news is they are often in favour, especially if they can pick a design code to make sure that the extensions are attractive."

Growth in the number of properties being built would give the economy a "major jolt" during this period of slow growth with evidence suggesting GDP per capita would be 30% higher, the report said.

It added: "If nuclear power plants worked as badly as our laws on land use, they would all have melted down by now."