Neighbourhood planning is a great way for communities to have a say on the future of the places where they live and work. It came into effect in April 2012 under the Localism Act.
What can - and can't - it be used for?
Neighbourhood plans have to conform with Local Development Plans adopted by the Local Planning Authority, so they can't be used to oppose development approved in this way.
Your community could develop a neighbourhood plan to:
- choose where new homes, shops and offices should be built
- say what those new buildings should look like
- grant planning permission for new buildings that fit with your plan
Who can develop a Neighbourhood Plan?
All community members can get involved. Neighbourhood planning is led by either the parish or town council, or by a neighbourhood forum.
A neighbourhood forum is a group that has been designated by the local planning authority (usually your borough or district council) to do neighbourhood planning. A forum may already exist in your area, or you may decide to set one up.
How does it work?
Developing a Neighbourhood Plan takes a lot of people's time and work, so it's worth being aware of what's involved before you set out on the process. One good way of doing this and understand the pros and cons is to talk to people in a community that has already done this - the Norfolk Coast Partnership office or your local planning authority may be able to put you in touch with someone.
The brief summary here provides an idea of what's involved.
Support and advice
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) provides information on neighbourhood planning, including a series of newsletters through its Neighbourhood Planning Team.
DCLG provides funding to 4 organisations already offering support on neighbourhood planning:
- the Royal Town Planning Institute (Planning Aid)
- the Princes Foundation for Building Community
- the Campaign to Protect Rural England, working with the National Association of Local Councils
- Locality (the Building Communities Consortium).
The funding will enable the support providers to offer practical and bespoke advice and assistance to communities leading the way on neighbourhood plans.
Community groups need to contact their local planning authority who have a duty to provide support and advice to groups undertaking neighbourhood planning.
Local businesses, landowners and developers may also be interested in sponsoring and taking a role in neighbourhood planning.
Neighbourhood Plans are being used in other parts of the country to try to manage the levels of second homes. St Ives in Cornwall is a key example, where a policy requiring full-time residency of new houses has been agreed through a referendum, although this is currently being challenged through judicial review. (2017 update)
The Lake District National Park Authority operates a 'local occupancy' policy on new houses, where these can only be sold to a person who is employed, about to be employed or was last employed locally, or people who have lived locally for three years or more.