Neighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their community and shape the development and growth of their local area.

The Department for Communities and Local Government describes Neighbourhood Plans as “a new way for communities to decide the future of the places where they live and work”. The Localism Act which was passed in 2011 gives local communities the rights to prepare these plans in order to provide local communities with a meaningful say in which the areas they live are planned.

Neighbourhood planning helps town and parish councils to prepare a plan for their area, in close consultation with residents, businesses and other local organisations. Neighbourhood Plans are for the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of everyone in the community.

Neighbourhood Plans in Summary

  • Statutory right for local people and businesses to plan for the future of their communities in a sustainable and fair way.
  • Designed to enable local people to strongly influence how development will occur locally:
  • Potential to give communities a bigger say over type, location, size, pace and deign of future development.
  • Potential to tackle longer term trends and challenges affecting communities.
  • Potential to foster progressive relationships between communities, developers and local authorities.
  • Potential to provide neighbourhoods with more influence on delivery and implementation.

A Neighbourhood Plan can:

  • Influence the location and type of development, including housing, retail, employment and community facilities
  • Influence the design of new development through the creation of localised ‘’design codes’’ or ‘’development briefs’’
  • Protect areas of public green space from inappropriate development
  • Create planning policies on the local environment and
  • Protect existing areas of retail or community facilities from redevelopment/ change of use i.e. a community hall, public house or local shop unless it can be demonstrated that the facility is no longer viable
  • Protect historical assets/ areas from inappropriate development or alteration
  • Support the regeneration of an area.

A Neighbourhood Plan cannot:

  • Reverse existing ‘’live’’ planning permissions
  • Be used to prevent development that is included in the Local Plan or control the extent of development within an area i.e. housing numbers
  • Make decisions on mineral and waste proposals such as fracking or gravel extraction
  • Influence local and strategic highway/roads, drainage or other utility infrastructure
  • Support developments within an identified high flood risk area
  • Influence strategic or national sites of importance i.e. airports, Motorways, MOD sites, power stations or railways.
  • Conflict with the strategic policies in the Local Plan prepared by the local planning authority
  • Be prepared by a body other than a parish or town council or a neighbourhood forum.

What can a Neighbourhood Plan contain?

So long as your Neighbourhood Plan complies with the above principles, it can be as narrow or as broad as you wish. But it must be primarily about the use and development of land and buildings. It can also have a say in how buildings should look (their ‘design’), or the materials they are constructed from.

Typical things that a Neighbourhood Plan might include:

  • The development of housing, including affordable housing (affordable housing is housing that is not normally for sale on the open market), and bringing vacant or derelict housing back into use.
  • Provision for businesses to set up or expand their premises.
  • Transport and access (including issues around roads, cycling, walking and access for disabled people).
  • The development of schools, places of worship, health facilities, leisure and entertainment facilities, community and youth centres and village halls.
  • The restriction of certain types of development and change of use, for example to avoid too much of one type of use.
  • The design of buildings.
  • Protection and creation of open space, nature reserves, allotments, sports pitches, play areas, parks and gardens, and the planting of trees.
  • Protection of important buildings and historic assets such as archaeological remains.
  • Promotion of renewable energy projects, such as solar energy and wind turbines.

To read more…

If you’d like to read more about Neighbourhood Planning, the Department of Communities and Local Government has further advice and guidance about which can be read here.