What Is A Neighbourhood Plan?
Under the terms of the new Localism Act, communities can now choose to produce a neighbourhood plan, which will contain policies to help shape and deliver new development in their areas. Because this document will become a statutory (legal) document they have to produce it in a certain way.
The Government has set out regulations on how this would be done.
Neighbourhood Plans can set out a vision for an area and should contain planning policies for the use and development of land. A Neighbourhood Plan should be developed to help guide development, rather than to prevent it. Policies should cover local issues rather than strategic issues. For example, a Plan could cover where new homes, shops or offices should go and what green spaces should be protected.
Plans should be developed in partnership with the Parish Council, local community groups, Local Authority, statutory consultees, local residents and local businesses. They will need to be produced in conformity with Bassetlaw District Council’s Core Strategy and Development Management Policies Development Plan Document and national planning policy. If the Plan is adopted by the District Council it will become a statutory document that will be used when determining planning applications.
Neighbourhood planning cannot be used to block the building of the homes and businesses considered to be necessary to meet the District’s current and future needs. It can , however, influence the type, design, location and mix of new development.
Neighbourhood Planning can involve any of the following:
- Neighbourhood Development Plan - establishes the vision and planning policies for the use and development of land in your neighbourhood.
- Neighbourhood Development Order – allows the community to grant planning permission for types of new developments you want to see go ahead.
- Community Right to Build Order – is a type of Neighbourhood Development Order which gives communities the power to develop, for instance, small-scale housing and other facilities that you want without the need to apply for planning permission.
All of these documents will be subject to an independent examination and a local referendum before they can be adopted.
Who can lead on Neighbourhood Planning?
Neighbourhood Planning is led by the local community. A Neighbourhood Development Plan and a Neighbourhood Development Order can only be prepared by Parish or Town Council in Parished areas. In areas where there is no Parish or Town Council, a Neighbourhood Forum can lead on coordinating the neighbourhood planning for your area. This could be an existing community organisation or a new group but it will need to meet certain criteria. The Neighbourhood Forum and area boundary will need to be approved by the Council.
A Community Right to Build Order can be prepared by certain community organisations and not just the Parish or Town Council or Neighbourhood Forum.
Who will pay for the Plan?
Funding is avaiable to help support local communities producing Neighbourhood Plans, from both central government and various other sources, such as lottery funding. The Council will assist with certain aspects of the Plan’s production and examination. It will also help any community wanting to produce a plan to apply for funding.
What help is available?
The Council can assist parishes and community groups in producing a Neighbourhood Plan.
In addition to advice from the Council, the following organisations may be able to offer assistance:
- My Community
- Planning Aid
- Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment
- Campaign to Protect Rural England
- Forum for Neighbourhood Planning
How to Prepare a Neighbourhood Plan.
Stage 1 - Agreeing the Neighbourhood Area and Group carrying out the Neighbourhood Plan
Parish Councils, or local groups in unparished areas, should submit their applications for the designation of a neighbourhood area to the Council. These should include:
- a plan and statement identifying the land to which the neighbourhood plan will relate;
- a statement explaining why this area is considered appropriate to be designated as a neighbourhood area;
- a statement explaining why the group is capable of being the ‘qualifying body’ to carry out the Neighbourhood Plan; and
- contact details for the group
The Council will, with the assistance of the proposing body, publicise the statement and invite members of the public to comment on the proposal. This consultation process will take place for four weeks.
Parish Councils and Neighbourhood Forums
Parish Councils will usually take the lead in progressing Neighbourhood Plans. Community groups can, however, also apply to the Council to become a Neighbourhood Forum. The Forum must contain a cross section of the population and comprise a minimum of 21 people. The application to the Council must contain:
- the name of the neighbourhood forum;
- a plan and statement identifying the land to which the neighbourhood plan relates;
- contact details of at least one member of the group;
- a copy of the written constitution of the proposed neighbourhood forum; and
- a statement explaining why the group is capable of being the ‘qualifying body’ to carry out the Neighbourhood Plan.
- Notice of accepted application
Once an application is received, from either a Parish Council or community group, Bassetlaw District Council will publish on its website a statement setting out:
- the name and coverage of the proposed neighbourhood forum;
- the contact details of at least one member of the organisation or body making the application;
- the date on which the application was received; and
- a statement that any other application for the relevant neighbourhood area, after the first application to be accepted, must be received by Bassetlaw District Council no later than 28 days after the date on which the above information was first published on their website in relation to the first application accepted.
Stage 2 - Preparing and writing the Neighbourhood Plan
When writing the Neighbourhood Plan the following should be taken into consideration:
- The Plan must be in general conformity with the Bassetlaw District Council Core Strategy and Development Management Policies document and with National Guidance;
- The Council’s Evidence Base, and evidence gathered by the Neighbourhood Planning group, should be used to support Plan;
- Strong links must have been made with local residents, community groups and local business;
- Thorough consultation is essential;
- The Plan must reflect the views and concerns of local people;
- Involving the District Council at the start of the process is essential.
- Publicising your Plan
- The draft version of the Plan must be publicised to people who live, work or carry out business in the area;
- The Plan must be publicised for a minimum period of six-weeks to allow for responses;
- Statutory bodies must be consulted;
A draft must be submitted to the Council.
Supporting Information to be submitted with the Plan
- Title of the proposed plan;
- Plan or statement showing the area covered;
- Consultation statement detailing:
- who was consulted;
- how they were consulted;
- main issues/concerns raised and describing how they were addressed.
Stage 3 - Independent Check
Once a plan has been prepared, an independent examiner will check the plan and make sure it meets the right basic standards. The examiner will be appointed and paid for by the District Council with the consent of the Parish Council or Forum. The examiner must be independent of both the Parish/Forum and the District Council and have no interest in the land in the area.
After the check
The examiner will recommend one of the following:
- That the plan goes to referendum;
- That the plan be modified before a referendum;
- That the plan be refused.
- The Council will need to look at the examiner’s views and decide whether to make the changes proposed. The examiner’s report is not binding and the Council may wish to dismiss the examiner’s comments.
There may be a need to go back to the community and re-consult on the plan if significant changes are made to the plan by the examiner and the Council agrees them.
Stage 4 - Community Referendum
The Council will organise and pay for a referendum on any Plan that meets the right standards. The referendum gives the wider community a chance to say whether the Plan should come into force or not. If more than 50% of the community vote in favour of the plan then it is adopted by the Council. Please note that ‘more than 50% of the community’ means 50% of those voting on the day.