Neighbourhood Planning is a right for communities introduced
through the Localism Act 2011.
A Neighbourhood Plan provides the opportunity for communities to set out a positive vision for how they want their community to develop in the future.
A Neighbourhood Plan enables communities to play a much stronger role in shaping the areas in which they live and work and in supporting new development proposals.
A Neighbourhood Plan forms part of the development plan and sits alongside the Local Plan prepared by the local planning authority.
Neighbourhood Plans need to comply with strategic policies at national level and with the District Council’s Local Plan.
Who will take notice of the Neighbourhood Plan?
With a Neighbourhood Plan the Parish Council, The Local Council and the District Council will have to take notice: the Plan sits alongside the Local Plan which all Councils are required to prepare and follow. The Neighbourhood Plan, if adopted into the Development Plan, is seen as a democratic voice of the community and so will be ignored at peril. Without a Neighbourhood Plan, the community’s voice will not be heard as directly, and the community will be forced to rely on development recommendations made at arms length, such as decisions taken in the Parish Council, Town Hall or District Offices.
Will it stop development?
With the UK and the South East in particular growing, development cannot be stopped. What a Neighbourhood Plan can do is to recommend the type of development, and to restrict development to areas that the community thinks is appropriate and in line with the capacity of local infrastructure. A Neighbourhood Plan can also make it very difficult for an opportunistic developer for example, to impose its vision on the area, as Council Planners will have to consult the Neighbourhood Plan within the overall Development Plan, and must have a very good reason to override it. Any decision that goes against the fully adopted Neighbourhood Plan will be easier to challenge in law.
What if I don't want development?
Unfortunately this is unrealistic: a zero development plan will be simple for the Planning Authorities and any developer to reject as being against the country’s obvious development needs. But with an approved Neighbourhood Plan, development can be restricted to the minimum and more importantly can only take place where the community wants it, with a look and scale in line with the community’s wishes.