Through the Localism Act the Government has introduced new rights and powers to allow local communities to come together to prepare Neighbourhood Plans. The Localism Act introduced a new tier to the planning system, giving local communities greater control over the development of their areas. It will enable a community, be it a group of residents, employees or businesses, to have a say in where new development should go, what it should look like and also the power to grant planning permission.
What is Neighbourhood Planning?
Neighbourhood Planning can cover any one of these three distinct areas:
- Neighbourhood Development Plan
- Neighbourhood Development Order
- Community Right to Build Order
What is a Neighbourhood Development Plan?
Communities can use a Neighbourhood Plan to create a vision for their area, establishing general planning policies for the development and use of land. This could be where new homes should be built and what types of materials should be used, where public open space or green space should be designated and how it will be maintained. The plan must be in general conformity to the local planning authority's local development framework or Local Plan, and as such cannot be used to reduce the amount or type of development currently planned for.
What is a Neighbourhood Development Order?
Communities will have the power to grant planning permission for certain types of development in their area, such as residential extensions, without the need to seek formal planning permission. As with a Neighbourhood Plan, a Neighbourhood Development Order must meet certain conditions, such as conforming to national policies and strategic local policies. It must also gain a majority vote at a referendum.
What is a Community Right to Build Order?
This is a type of Neighbourhood Development Order which enables a community, such as a community interest company or community land trust to bring forward specific developments within their area. Any benefits which these schemes bring will remain within the community to be used for maintaining or enhancing community facilities.
Who can prepare a Neighbourhood Plan?
In parished areas, only the parish or town council can lead on preparing a Neighbourhood Plan. In non-parish areas, a Neighbourhood Forum must be designated by the Council.
What is a neighbourhood forum?
A neighbourhood forum is the body that will prepare a Neighbourhood Plan in non-parished areas. The Forum must be made up of a minimum of 21 people who live, work or do business in the neighbourhood area. Non-parished areas must apply for both area and Forum designation. This can be done by completing the Neighbourhood Area Application Form and a Neighbourhood Forum application. It is important to discuss your proposals with the Council, prior to completing these forms.
What is a neighbourhood area?
A Neighbourhood Area is the area that will be covered by the Neighbourhood Plan. Any area can have a Neighbourhood Plan. They can cross local authority boundaries although they should not overlap with other parishes or neighbourhoods who may also wish to prepare a plan for their area. If the area is very small such as one street it may be suggested joining with other neighbourhoods to create a larger area. The Local planning authority will need to agree with the community the area the plan will cover. Parished Areas and neighbourhood forums can apply for area designation using the Neighbourhood Area Application Form. It is important to discuss your proposals with the Council, prior to completing this form.
Are communities required to have a Neighbourhood Plan?
No, communities can decide if they want a plan or not.
What is the process for preparing a Neighbourhood Plan?
The Neighbourhood Plan needs to go through a number of stages before it can be finalised and it is therefore important to prepare a project plan which should identify what resources are available to prepare the plan and the timescales that need to be worked to. It is desirable to engage with the Local planning authority during all stages of the Neighbourhood Planning process, in particular the project planning and drafting stages. Unlike community or parish plans, a Neighbourhood Plan is a statutory planning document which has to go through formal stages of consultation and independent examination. After examination, the Neighbourhood Plan will need to be subject to a public referendum. This means that the plan will need to be supported by the majority of the community (more than 50%) before it can be adopted. Providing this level of support is achieved, the Neighbourhood Plan will then be adopted. To find out more about the process for preparing a Neighbourhood Plan, it is recommended that the Locality Roadmap for Neighbourhood Planning is referred to. This provides details on what is required and should be treat as essential reading before embarking on preparing a Neighbourhood Plan. It will also be helpful to refer to Fact Sheet 3 which is available on the Council’s Neighbourhood Planning webpage.
How long will it take to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan?
Evidence suggests that a Neighbourhood Plan can take on average more than two years to prepare, from the point at which the neighbourhood area is designated to the final adoption of the plan. In cases where the Neighbourhood Plan is focusing on only a few issues, there are examples of where the plan has been prepared more quickly (18 months).
What weight will be given to Neighbourhood Plans in planning decisions?
When adopted, Neighbourhood Plans will be statutory planning documents. They will form part of the Local Plan and so will have significant weight in planning decisions.
How many Neighbourhood Plans are there in Hambleton?
Five areas have taken steps towards developing a Neighbourhood Plan.
- Appleton Wiske
- Ingleby Arncliffe
- Hutton Rudby, Rudby, Middleton and Skutterskelfe
What help can I get from the Council?
Once the neighbourhood area is approved, the local planning authority is legally required to advise or assist those bodies producing a Neighbourhood Plan in its area. This Duty to Support could include things like:
- arranging meetings, as appropriate, with the qualifying body
- making available data for the evidence base, such as housing need data, development viability considerations, environmental designations, and flood risk assessments.
- setting out local strategic policies in the Local Plan
- setting out national policies which will need to be considered
- providing advice on the legal requirements for Neighbourhood Planning under the Localism Act
- providing advice on general planning matters
- sharing information on key contacts and stakeholders
- providing advice and guidance on setting up a questionnaire
- collation and summary of questionnaire responses
- providing information and advice on housing need
- making available venues and helping to arrange community engagement activities, to avoid consultation overload and maximise efficiencies of resources
- checking the plan prior to formal submission
- participation in meetings of the qualifying body or its working groups
- providing advice on who needs to be consulted, especially in order to help the draft proposals meet the basic conditions (such as compatibility with EU obligations)
- providing technical support, such as assistance in laying out and illustrating a plan
- providing members for neighbourhood forums or more informal steering/working groups
- identifying any need for and undertaking environmental assessment or Habitat Regulations assessment.
However, it is worth noting that the local planning authority cannot undertake new primary research for the neighbourhood plan group and cannot write the neighbourhood plan on behalf of groups.
Is there any other financial assistance available for developing Neighbourhood Plans?
All groups writing a Neighbourhood Plan will be eligible to apply for up to £9,000 in grant through a national initiative. You can find out how you can do this by visiting www.mycommunity.org.uk. It must be a representative of the Town or Parish Council that applies for support. In addition, groups in certain priority areas (including those allocating sites for housing, unparished areas, business areas, deprived areas, clusters of parishes and areas of high growth) are eligible to apply for a further £6,000 grant funding and technical support packages. Packages include site assessment, masterplanning and design, evidence base and policy review, strategic environmental assessment and plan healthchecks.
Some ideas of what you might apply to use grant for include:
- developing a website
- training sessions for members of the steering group
- help with putting together a project plan
- undertaking a household survey
- help with developing the evidence base
- engaging a planning expert
- venue hire, publicity materials, printing and other costs associated with consultation
Contact the Planning Policy team at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01609 779977 and ask for Planning Policy.
You can download this information in short format here;
- Factsheet 1 - What does Neighbourhood Planning involve and is it right for you?
- Factsheet 2 – Neighbourhood Plan Process - First Steps
- Factsheet 3 - Key steps - what you will need to do
- Factsheet 4 – Neighbourhood Plan process - Submission
Further information and guidance can also be viewed at the following websites: