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Neighbourhood planning was introduced under the Localism Act (2011), to give members of the community a more ‘hands on’ role in the planning of their neighbourhoods. It enables communities to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and deliver the sustainable development they need through planning policies relating to the development and use of land.
Formal neighbourhood plans are instigated and prepared by local communities, with our support. The focus on planning policies and proposals allows communities to shape the future of their areas, including determining the location of development, setting standards for the design of development, and identifying infrastructure priorities.
The development of a neighbourhood plan is a significant undertaking for a community and the process undertaken for their preparation must comply with national legislation including the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations (2012). This process involves extensive community engagement; preparation of an appropriate evidence base, necessary supporting assessments, and ‘prescribed documents’; drafting any policies and proposals and preparing a draft Neighbourhood Plan, and undertaking more formal consultation once a draft neighbourhood plan has been prepared.
Following submission of a draft neighbourhood plan, it will be reviewed to ensure all ‘prescribed documents’ are available and a formal stage of consultation undertaken. The draft neighbourhood plan will then be considered by an independent examiner, to consider how the plan fits in with local and national planning policies. Subject to the examination process they will then be the subject of a local referendum.
Once adopted, a neighbourhood plan forms part of the Development Plan, for the specific area it covers. The policies contained within them will be used in the determination of Planning Applications. However, as neighbourhood plan’s form part of the development plan, they must be in general conformity with the strategic policies within the wider development plan.
Community-led plan is a term used to describe the various documents that are prepared by communities in order to seek to positively plan for the future of their village, parish or neighbourhood. They help a community to come together to decide what they want to improve or achieve in their area.
The term includes such documents as village appraisals and design statements, parish/town plans, and neighbourhood plan lights. It also includes formal neighbourhood plans however these are addressed separately above.
Unlike formal neighbourhood plans, community-led plans do not form part of the development plan. They're not limited to planning policies and proposals, and are often used to identify the wider priorities, objectives and aspirations of a community. The end result is usually an action plan setting out an approach for making improvements to the local area.
However, where community-led plans do contain policies and proposals that are relevant to the decision making process for planning applications, they can represent a material consideration, given that they are prepared by the local community and are informed by community consultation.
The process of preparing a community-led plan, is subject to less stringent requirements than that for formal neighbourhood plans, however it is still important that they are informed by effective community consultation and an appropriate level of evidence.