The Localism Bill means Neighbourhood planning is all the rage.

But if you want to get cracking now with your neighourhood plan you do not have to wait. There are things that your neighbourhood can do today to get a head start. And if you need support to do that – we can tailor a package for you, always being mindful your budget may be limited. If you want to know more call us for a chat on 01282 872572 . Or simply send your questions to Mick. We are happy to discuss your needs and advise.

Read on for our guide on Localism and Neighbourhood Planning.

The Localism Bill makes provisions for neighbourhood planning. In some ways this is nothing new. Many parishes have prepared plans, neighbourhoods have had area action plans. Preceding the unitary development plan system many local plans were prepared for a neighbourhood, or only parts of a local authority area.

So if approved what would be new about the Government’s neighbourhood planning?

Firstly, local groups would be able to propose to a local authority the preparation of a plan for their area.

At this stage a check would be in place, because the group proposing to prepare the plan and the plan’s boundary would have to be approved by the local authority if it were not a Parish or Town Council.

Local authorities will have a duty to provide advice and guidance to support the preparation of a neighbourhood plan, but not financial assistance. The neighbourhood would be responsible for preparation and funding.

Currently, Government are funding a number of organisations to support preparation of neighbourhood plans, click here. If you would like to know more about accessing such funding please call Michael Wellock on 01282 872572, or email your question to we will be happy to assist.

The neighbourhood plan will have to follow any strategic elements in the development plan for the area, e.g. meeting housing numbers. However, a neighbourhood plan could propose more housing. The Government have talked about a community right to build. In this instance, communities could vote for more housing.

The Government also wants neighbourhood plans to streamline the system. This will be done by allowing such plans to permit development – in full or in outline – without the need for planning applications.

Before a neighbourhood plan is approved it will have to be subject to independent evaluation. If this evaluation accepts the plan, the plan will then go to a referendum of residents. If 50% of voters agree the local authority must adopt the plan. This plan will govern then govern future development in the area.

Key things to note

  • Responsibility for preparing neighbourhood plans would rest with the neighbourhood
  • Local authorities will have a duty to provide advice, but not financial assistance
  • Neighbourhoods will have to meet any development targets set in the Local Plan, they can propose more, but not less development
  • Neighbourhood plans could permit certain types of development without the need for a planning application
  • Neighbourhood plans would only be approved after an independent evaluation, and after a referendum in which 50% of residents voted in favour

Four groups have been identified to support the neighbourhood planning process to find out more click here.

One of these groups is the RTPI’s Planning Aid Service who have produced a useful Guide.


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