Neighbourhood Plans are a key part of the Localism Act, passed by Parliament in November 2011. The Act shifts power away from central Government and towards local people, with greater powers being devolved to councils and neighbourhoods. Local communities now have the opportunity to have more control over housing and planning decisions.
A neighbourhood plan must be developed by the community. Our role in the process is to:
- ensure that the intention to produce a neighbourhood plan and the area that it will cover is brought to the attention of people who live and work (or own a business) in the area
- ensure that the 'qualifying body' that takes the plan forward meets the requirements of the Localism Act
- help the community to ensure that the plan they produce is based on robust and credible evidence, is deliverable and consistent with other national and local planning policy
- arrange for an inspector to examine the plan to make sure that it meets the requirements of a local planning document and can be used to help determine planning applications
- arrange a referendum where everyone living in the area can vote to confirm whether they would like the plan to be adopted as part of its planning policy.
Producing a Neighbourhood Plan
A Neighbourhood Plan, which can become part of the statutory development plan for the designated area, can assist local communities in shaping how their locality develops by establishing general planning policies for the development and use of land within a defined area. The content of a Neighbourhood Plan can be adapted to reflect the local situation, but it is likely to include development management policies (for example, design policies).
To become part of the development plan, a Neighbourhood Plan must receive a majority ‘Yes’ vote in a local referendum organised by us. To reach the referendum stage, a Neighbourhood Plan needs to progress through several stages:
- Completed Neighbourhood Plans are submitted to us. We need to be satisfied that the submitted plan complies with the strategic priorities of the local development plan (for example, adopted Core Strategy).
- Following a period of public consultation, the submitted plan will be examined by an independent inspector who is required to ensure the plan meets a set of basic conditions and legal requirements.
- Following a successful examination, a submitted Neighbourhood Plan can continue to a local referendum and, if successful, be adopted as part of the development plan.
What can a Neighbourhood Plan contain?
A Neighbourhood Plan must be about the use and development of land and buildings. It can set out how much, what type and where development should take place. It can also have a say in how buildings should look (their ‘design’). It cannot be used to prevent development that we have identified as being needed in our Core Strategy.
Typical things that a Neighbourhood Plan might include:
- The development of housing, including affordable housing
- Providing for businesses to set up or expand their premises
- Transport and access issues (roads, cycling, walking, disabled)
- The development of schools, places of worship, health facilities, leisure and entertainment facilities, community and youth centres and village halls
- The restriction of certain types of development and change of use - for example, to avoid too much of one type of use.
- The design of buildings
- Protection and creation of open space, nature reserves, allotments, sports pitches, play areas, parks and gardens, and the planting of trees
- Protection of important buildings and historic assets, such as archaeological remains
- Promotion of renewable energy projects, such as solar energy and wind turbines.
You can read more about the Neighbourhood Planning process on the Gov.uk website.
Grovehill is one of the first areas in the country to test out these new planning powers. Read more about the journey so far.