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Neighbourhood Planning

Key Stages to Neighbourhood Planning

Key Stages to Neighbourhood Planning

There are 5 key stages to neighbourhood planning:

1. Defining the neighbourhood

In areas with a parish or town council, that council will take the lead on neighbourhood planning.

In areas without a town or parish council, for example areas with a parish meeting, local people will need to decide which organisation should lead on coordinating the local debate. This may be via an existing community group or the formation of a new group. In both cases, the group must meet some basic requirements. It must, for example, have at least 21 members, and it must be open to new members.  If the local planning authority decides that the community group meets the requirements, the group will be able to call itself a 'Neighbourhood Forum'. A Neighbourhood Forum can then start neighbourhood planning.

Community groups will then need to apply to the local planning authority identifying the neighbourhood area and submitting information about the group.

2. Preparing the plan

The Parish/Town Council or Neighbourhood Forum will then begin collecting ideas together and preparing a draft plan. Communities will be able to establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood. The plans must follow the following rules;

  • They must be in generally conformity with local and national planning policies
  • They must be in line with other laws, for example European legislation
  • Neighbourhood plans cannot be used to block the building of new homes and businesses. They can be used to influence the type, design, location and mix of new development.
  • They must contribute to achieving sustainable development

3. Independent Check

Once a neighbourhood plan has been prepared, an independent examiner will be appointed by ENC to check that it meets the right standards and requirements.

If the plan does not meet these, the examiner will recommend changes. The planning authority will then need to consider the examiner’s views and decide whether to make those changes.

If the examiner recommends significant changes, then the parish/town council or neighbourhood forum may decide to consult the local community again before proceeding.

4. Community Referendum

ENC will organise a referendum on any Neighbourhood Plan that has successfully been through Examination. This ensures that the community has the final say on whether a neighbourhood plan comes into force. If more than 50 per cent of people voting in the referendum support the plan, then the local planning authority must bring it into force.

5. Legal Force

Once a neighbourhood plan is in force, it carries real legal weight. Decision-makers will be obliged, by law, to take what it says into consideration when determining proposals for development.

More detailed information about these stages are provided in the Governments advice leaflet - An Introduction to Neighbourhood Planning (DCLG)