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Neighbourhood planning encompasses a series of new powers introduced by the Localism Act 2011. Neighbourhood planning gives communities the opportunity to plan their local area by deciding how it should grow, where development should go and what it should look like.
For example, neighbourhood planning can be used to:
Neighbourhood planning cannot be used to prevent developments required to meet the borough's current and future needs (the strategic priorities). However communities can use neighbourhood planning to influence the design, location and mix of new development and to address any issues that are purely local.
There are three types of neighbourhood planning tools your community may wish to use.
Neighbourhood planning is not the only option available. There are many other ways you can influence planning in your area:
Which ever method you choose, it should always be appropriate for your goal and available resources. The Localism Network has produced Planning and Localism: Choices and Choosing which sets out the options in more detail and provides advice on the most appropriate choices.
Neighbourhood planning is generally aimed at bringing forward or shaping new development. If your goals cannot be met through development, neighbourhood planning may not be the best tool.
Neighbourhood planning is a democratic process led either by a parish or town council, or a neighbourhood forum (see below) in non-parished areas. The Council can provide some guidance and technical assistance.
For more information, please see our five step guide to neighbourhood planning below. Further advice on the neighbourhood planning process can be found in the Neighbourhood Plans Roadmap Guide from Locality.
If you are interested in neighbourhood planning, or have any questions, please contact us using the contact details at the bottom of this page.
This is a brief summary of the main stages involved in the neighbourhood planning process.
1. Establish the lead body and define the neighbourhood area
The neighbourhood planning process is community driven but needs a body to lead the process. In parished areas this will be the town or parish council.
In non-parished areas a neighbourhood forum will need to be established. This must consist initially of at least 21 unrelated people who are sufficiently representative of that area. These people must live in, run businesses in or be elected members of a council in the neighbourhood area. This group acts as the forum steering group and a nucleus around which a community forum can form. Once the forum is established anyone who lives, works or has a business in the area may join.
You also need to decide on an area for plans or orders to cover. This area is called the 'neighbourhood area'. This could follow parish or ward boundaries but doesn't have to. The area must make sense in planning terms and cannot overlap with other existing or proposed neighbourhood areas.
Once the lead body and neighbourhood area are decided, an application for designation needs to be made to the Council.
In the case of Community Right to Build Orders, any community body can lead but there must be a designated neighbourhood area already in place.
2. Prepare your neighbourhood plan or development order
This is a democratic process that involves the community. You will need to collect together your community's ideas, gather evidence and draw up your proposals. You will need to ensure that everyone living and working in and around your neighbourhood area is appropriately consulted - including residents, businesses, landowners and relevant local, regional and national organisations and agencies. You may need to adjust proposals in response to consultation feedback.
Planning and development proposals must be in accordance with:
Neighbourhood planning proposals form part of the development plan when they are adopted, which means they must be considered when planning decisions are made. As a result, neighbourhood plan policies must be robust, justified and supported with evidence. Developing a neighbourhood plan or order may be a long process and will entail some costs which the neighbourhood planning body will have to carry. There may be government funding available to contribute to these costs, but this is not guaranteed.
3. Independent check
Once the plan or order is completed the Council will arrange for it to be checked by an independent examiner. The examiner will check to make sure it is legally compliant, does not conflict with strategic requirements and will consider any representations received during the consultation period.
If the examiner considers that your plan or order doesn't meet requirements, he/she will recommend that it be changed or rejected. The Council will then need to consider the examiner's views and decide whether to make those changes, reject the plan or proceed to referendum. If significant changes are recommended then the community may need to be consulted again before proceeding.
4. Community referendum
Once independently approved by the examiner, your neighbourhood plan or development order will need to be put to a community referendum organised by the Council. This will ensure that the community has the final say on whether your plan or order is to come into effect.
The referendum must be won by a simple majority of those who voted. Anyone who lives in the neighbourhood area and is usually eligible to vote there will be eligible to vote in the referendum. Where the proposals may significantly impact upon people living outside the neighbourhood area the referendum boundary may be extended.
5. Legal adoption
If the plan or order passes referendum, the Council must formally adopt it as part of the statutory Local Development Plan for the area. Once your plan or order has been brought into effect, decision-makers will be legally obliged to take what it says into account when considering planning applications and other proposals for development in the neighbourhood area.
Where the local community has made it clear that they want to see development of a certain type, it will then be easier for that sort of development to go ahead.
Local and national planning policy, guidance and law
Community and neighbourhood planning guidance