The Localism Act introduced new powers for communities in the form of Neighbourhood Planning. Communities have always been consulted in the planning process whether it be during the creation of planning policies or the assessment of planning applications (that are assessed against these policies). However, many groups have felt that this engagement is not meaningful giving them only a minor role in shaping where they live and work.
The Government responded to this by allowing communities to prepare their own planning policies and site allocations in the shape of neighbourhood plans. Through this tool they can actually create policies themselves which have real power as planning applications and appeals will be assessed against them. An approved neighbourhood plan will become a statutory part of the National Planning Policy Framework
How is a neighbourhood plan developed and what support is there?
There are a lot of processes that must be followed, evidence gathered to inform polices and consultation undertaken. The Forum for Neighbourhood Planning is designed to allow those actively engaged in the neighbourhood planning process to share experiences, thoughts and ideas.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) have put together How to shape where you live which gives more details about neighbourhood planning. They identify eight simple steps to take in preparing a Neighbourhood Plan and involving the whole community. Following these steps can lead to an effective Neighbourhood Plan and make sure it becomes formally adopted as part of the development plan for our community.
Locality’s Quick Guide to Neighbourhood Planning provides a good overview.
And the first neighbourhood plan to be approved in Upper Eden in March this year is well worth a look.