Neighbourhood Planning gives your community a real say in the planning system
What is a neighbourhood plan?
Neighbourhood Plans were introduced in the 2011 Localism Act to encourage local people to get more involved in planning the future of their towns and villages. They are documents that set out planning policies for the local area, against which planning applications will be considered.
Neighbourhood Plans can also set out where land and buildings that are special to the community can be safeguarded for future generations.
As it is a formal document, the Neighbourhood Plan has to undergo a fairly vigorous process in order to be ‘made’. This includes two rounds of formal consultation with the local community, an independent Examination and finally a local referendum.
If it is able to pass all of these stages, it will sit alongside the Local Plan for your area and carry equal weight in decision-making.
What can the Neighbourhood Plan do?
The Neighbourhood Plan can cover many different topics – depending on what is important locally:
Housing: Some communities want to restrict development. Whilst we cannot stop development happening – especially if it is included in your Local Plan – we can have a say in the sort of housing being allocated – is it affordable? Is it meeting the needs of your local community? Other communities see the merit in delivering more housing - for instance to meet a local housing need - and in this case, you can use your Neighbourhood Plan to identify sites and make allocations.
Character, heritage and design: Many areas we work with want to make sure that new development is in keeping with the local character and is designed to the highest standards – including ensuring it is environmentally friendly and reduces energy-consumption. We also want to celebrate our heritage. Your Neighbourhood Plan can add greater detail to the Local Plan, to set out some precise criteria to achieve this.
The Town or Village Centre and the wider economy: High streets, town and village centres traditionally provide a focal point for a range of local activities and we need to consider how we can make sure they stays vibrant and well-used – especially given the impacts of Covid-19. Equally, the way people are working is evolving and you might want to think about how we can support jobs locally and greater levels of home-working.
Environment and green spaces: You have an opportunity in your Neighbourhood Plan to protect valued green spaces from inappropriate development by designating them as ‘Local Green Spaces’. You also might consider how to mitigate climate change and include a range of policies to help achieve this, such as promoting sustainable design, encouraging allotments and self-sufficiency. Finally, more and more Neighbourhood Plans are mapping out their 'Networks of Green Infrastructure', which are important for wildlife and biodiversity.
Transport and movement: We can consider how to make it easier for residents and visitors to walk and cycle to within the neighbourhood area and to the surrounding settlements. Youur policies will ensure that our rights of way are well-maintained and accessible to all.
Community assets and infrastructure: Community facilities can provide an important lifeline not only for your community but for those in neighbouring villages and it is vital that they are safeguarded, improved and, where necessary, expanded to meet the changing needs of our residents. We can support additional facilities for children and teenagers and the provision of community halls and cultural venues.