Neighbourhood planning

Neighbourhood Planning FAQ

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:

Are communities required to have a Neighbourhood Plan?

No, preparing a neighbourhood plan is voluntary.

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. In summary these stages are:

  1. Community engagement and drafting of the plan

  2. Consultation on the draft plan

  3. Submission of the plan to Hambleton District Council

  4. Consultation on the submitted plan

  5. Examination

    1. Appointment of an examiner

    2. The examination

    3. The examiner reports

  6. Approval for referendum

  7. The referendum

  8. Adoption of the plan by Hambleton District Council

Unlike other forms of community planning, such as community or parish plans, a neighbourhood plan is a statutory planning document which has to go through formal stages before it becomes part of the planning policy for the area. It is therefore important to work with the planning department during all stages of the process, in particular the project planning and drafting stages.

Neighbourhood plans will need to be subject to public referendum.  This means that the plan will need to be supported by the majority of the community (more than 50% of those who vote) before it can be adopted.

How long will it take to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan?

Preparing a neighbourhood plan can take a lot of work. Evidence suggests that a plan can take on more than two years to prepare, from the point at which the neighbourhood area is designated to the final adoption of the plan.  How quickly you can prepare your plan will depend on many things, but particularly who you have that can help with different tasks and how organised you are. You should not feel that you have to prepare a plan in a certain amount of time.

What help is available from the Council?

Once the neighbourhood area is approved, the planning department is legally required to support the production of a neighbourhood plan. This Duty to Support will include things like:

  • Making available data and information for the evidence base, such as housing need data, environmental designations and flood risk assessments.

  • Advice about what the strategic policies are that the neighbourhood plan needs to conform with.

  • Advice on the legal requirements for neighbourhood plan.

  • Providing advice and guidance on setting up questionnaires and other engagement methods.

  • Collation and summary of questionnaire responses.

  • Helping to coordinate and plan engagement activities, to avoid consultation overload and maximise their effectiveness.

  • Checking the plan prior to consultation on the draft and before submission.

  • Providing advice on who needs to be consulted, especially in order to help meet the basic conditions.

  • Providing technical support, such as assistance in laying out the plan and with maps or graphical content.

  • Identifying any need for and undertaking environmental assessment or Habitat Regulations assessment.

However, it is worth noting that preparing the plan is the responsibility of the neighbourhood planning group, whether that is the parish or town council or a specifically designated forum and the planning department cannot write the neighbourhood plan on behalf of groups.

Is there any financial assistance available for developing neighbourhood plans?

All groups writing a Neighbourhood Plan will be eligible to apply for a grant through a national initiative. Current grants are up to £9,000. You can find out how you can do this by visiting the myCommunity website here:

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) may be eligible for a further £6,000 grant funding and technical support packages.

Are there any legal requirements for neighbourhood plans?

The main requirement for neighbourhood plans is that they must meet a set of Basic Conditions. The Basic Conditions include that the neighbourhood plan:

  • has regard to national policies and advice, specifically the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the national Planning Practice Guidance;

  • contributes to the achievement of sustainable development defined in the NPPF;

  • is in general conformity with the strategic policies contained in the development plan for the area (these are currently the policies in the Core Strategy and are identified in the emerging Local Plan); and

  • does not breach, and is otherwise compatible with, EU obligations.

What weight will be given to Neighbourhood Plans in planning decisions?

When adopted, a neighbourhood plan will be part of the statutory planning documents. They will form part of the Local Plan and will be used when the council determines planning applications.

What other information is available?

Locality has set up a dedicated website for neighbourhood planning:

They have also produced a series of factsheets that are available to download:

Further information and guidance is also available:

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