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About neighbourhood plans

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

The Localism Act 2011 introduced new rights and powers to allow local communities to shape new development by coming together to prepare neighbourhood plans. Neighbourhood planning can be taken forward by two types of body - town and parish councils or 'neighbourhood forums'. Neighbourhood forums are community groups that are designated to take forward neighbourhood planning in areas without parishes.

Neighbourhood forums and parish councils can use new neighbourhood planning powers to establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood. These are described legally as 'neighbourhood development plans.'

What Neighbourhood Plans do:

  • Can decide where and what type of development should happen in the neighbourhood
  • Promote more development than set out in the Borough Local Plan
  • Include policies for a range of issues including design, community facilities and local green space

Neighbourhood plans have to meet a number of conditions before they can be put to a community referendum through a ballot and legally come into force. These conditions set out below are to ensure plans are legally compliant and take account of wider policy considerations (e.g. national policy).

Neighbourhood Plans must:

  • have regard to national planning policy
  • be in general conformity with strategic policies in the development plan for the local area (i.e. such as in the new Local Plan)
  • be compatible with EU obligations and human rights requirements.

An independent qualified person will then check that a neighbourhood development plan appropriately meets the conditions before it can be voted on in a local referendum. This is to make sure that referendums only take place when proposals are workable and of a decent quality.

Proposed neighbourhood development plans or orders need to gain the approval of a majority of voters of the neighbourhood to come into force. If proposals pass the referendum, the local planning authority is under a legal duty to bring them into force.

Should my parish produce a Neighbourhood Plan? What would the Parish Council have to do to prepare one?

The council has produced a guide for Parish Councils (see PDF document below), and anybody interested in Neighbourhood Planning, which sets out the stages of preparing a plan and some advice on how to go about it. There are lots of links to other helpful sites too, so you should be able to find out more if you want to take things further.

Guidance for Parish Councils on neighbourhood planning preparation (April 2015)