WHAT IS NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING?
What is neighbourhood planning?
Neighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to
develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape
the development and growth of their local area. They are
able to choose where they want new homes, shops and
offices to be built, have their say on what those new
buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be
provided, and grant planning permission for the new
buildings they want to see go ahead. Neighbourhood
planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to
ensure that they get the right types of development for their
community where the ambition of the neighbourhood is
aligned with the strategic needs and priorities of the wider
What should a Neighbourhood Plan address?
A neighbourhood plan should support the strategic development needs set out in the Local Plan and plan positively to support local development (as outlined in paragraph 16 of the National Planning Policy Framework).
A neighbourhood plan must address the development and use of land. This is because if successful at examination and referendum the neighbourhood plan will become part of the statutory development plan once it has been made (brought into legal force) by the planning authority. Applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise (see section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004).
Neighbourhood planning can inspire local people and businesses to consider other ways to improve their neighbourhood than through the development and use of land. They may identify specific action or policies to deliver these improvements. Wider community aspirations than those relating to development and use of land can be included in a neighbourhood plan, but actions dealing with non land use matters should be clearly identifiable. For example, set out in a companion document or annex.
Must a community ensure its neighbourhood plan is deliverable?
If the policies and proposals are to be implemented as the community intended a neighbourhood plan needs to be deliverable. The National Planning Policy Framework requires that the sites and the scale of development identified in a plan should not be subject to such a scale of obligations and policy burdens that their ability to be developed viably is threatened.
Does a neighbourhood plan have the same legal status as the Local Plan?
A neighbourhood plan attains the same legal status as the Local Plan once it has been agreed at a referendum and is made (brought into legal force) by the local planning authority. At this point it becomes part of the statutory development plan. Applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise (see section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004).
What weight can be attached to an emerging neighbourhood plan when determining planning applications?
Planning applications are decided in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. An emerging neighbourhood plan may be a material consideration. Paragraph 216 of the National Planning Policy Framework sets out the weight that may be given to relevant policies in emerging plans in decision taking. Factors to consider include the stage of preparation of the plan and the extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies. Whilst a referendum ensures that the community has the final say on whether the neighbourhood plan comes into force, decision makers should respect evidence of local support prior to the referendum when seeking to apply weight to an emerging neighbourhood plan. The consultation statement submitted with the draft neighbourhood plan should reveal the quality and effectiveness of the consultation that has informed the plan proposals. And all representations on the proposals should have been submitted to the local planning authority by the close of the local planning authority’s publicity period. It is for the decision maker in each case to determine what is a material consideration and what weight to give to it.
Information Source: National Planning Policy Framework for England. For further information go to www.planningguidance.communities.gov.uk.
An alternative Quick Guide to Neighbourhood Planning is available to download at http://locality.org.uk/resources/quick-guide-neighbourhood-planning/