Neighbourhood Plans

The National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) states that Neighbourhood Plans should support the strategic development needs of the wider area set out in the Local Plan. They should not promote less development or undermine its strategic policies.
It adds that Neighbourhood Plans should plan positively to shape and direct development that is outside the strategic elements of the Local Plan.
The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 require a Town or Parish Council, or Neighbourhood Forum, to submit a statement to the local planning authority along with their draft plan. This should outline how the proposals in the Neighbourhood Plan meet certain basic conditions. This includes having regard to national policy and guidance.
Neighbourhood Plans are required to be in general conformity with the NPPF and the Local Plan.

Amendments to Planning Practice Guidance on Neighbourhood Planning

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)  have made a small number of amendments and clarifications to planning practice guidance on neighbourhood planning in February 2016. There is new guidance to clarify how planning applications should be decided where there is a made, or an emerging neighbourhood plan but the local planning authority does not have a five-year land supply of deliverable housing sites. Guidance on ‘What evidence is needed to support a neighbourhood plan or Order? and Can a Neighbourhood Plan come forward before an up-to-date Local Plan is in place? has been clarified to emphasise the importance of having up to date evidence on housing needs, and minimising conflicts with emerging Local Plan policies. Advice on the ability of a Parish or Town council to establish an advisory committee or sub-committee has also been updated.

Neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to ensure that they get the right types of development for their community. The ambition of the neighbourhood should be aligned with the strategic needs and priorities of the wider local area. Neighbourhood plans must be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Plan. To facilitate this, local planning authorities should set out clearly their strategic policies for the area and ensure that an up-to-date Local Plan is in place as quickly as possible. Neighbourhood plans should reflect these policies and neighbourhoods should plan positively to support them. Neighbourhood plans and orders should not promote less development than set out in the Local Plan or undermine its strategic policies.

The power of Neighbourhood Plans is increasing. Emerging Neighbourhood plans are being given consideration in planning decisions at appeal. For example: Eric Pickles has overruled an inspector and blocked proposals for 77 new homes in Wiltshire because they clash with a draft neighbourhood plan about to begin examination.
A neighbourhood plan attains the same legal status as the Local Plan once it has been agreed at a referendum and is made (brought into legal force) by the local planning authority. At this point it becomes part of the statutory development plan. Applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
On five year housing land supply, the government’s view is that neighbourhood plans, once made (and so part of the development plan), should be upheld as an effective means to shape and direct development in the neighbourhood planning area in question; for example to ensure that the best located sites are developed. Therefore the government’s view is that the adverse impact of allowing development that conflicts with key policies in a neighbourhood plan is likely to be substantial. This should be taken into account by decision-makers, even where the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land.

A CONTROVERSIAL plan for a 77-home estate on the edge of Malmesbury within sight of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been blocked by the Government despite the local authority’s lack of a five-year housing land supply, a requirement of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Developer White Lion Land had appealed after its plans for new homes off Park Road, Malmesbury, were refused by Wiltshire Council in June last year on the basis that approval would prejudice emerging local and neighbourhood plans – for details see the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard

And according to the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework), Neighbourhood Plans are entitled to designate ‘Local Green Space‘ (Local Green Space designation ‘is a way to provide special protection against development for green areas of particular importance to local communities.’)

According to the Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt) by Natural England, everyone, wherever they live, should have accessible natural greenspace:

  • of at least 2 hectares in size, no more than 300 metres (5 minutes walk) from home;
  • at least one accessible 20 hectare site within two kilometre of home;
  • one accessible 100 hectare site within five kilometres of home; and
  • one accessible 500 hectare site within ten kilometres of home; plus
  • a minimum of one hectare of statutory Local Nature Reserves per thousand population.

How much will it cost?

The “My Community Rights” website has links to some case studies which show that for a small parish it can cost as little as £4,220 (Strumpshaw) or as much as £19,500 (Heathfield Park). Other case studies include:

Useful case studies

Useful information on Neighbourhood Planning includes:

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