What is Neighbourhood Planning?
The Localism Act introduced new rights and powers to allow local communities to plan new development in their area and therefore help to decide the future of the places where they live and work. Neighbourhood planning empowers communities to shape the development and growth of a local area through the production of a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP), a Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO) or a Community Right to Build Order (CrTB).
Examples of what local communities will be able to do include:
- Choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built,
- Have their say In what those new buildings should look like, and
- Grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead.
What is a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP)?
NDPs are a new way for communities to decide the future of the places where they live and work; it is a new tier of the development plan created by communities. The NDP will establish planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood. It is important to note that policies created through the NDP will need to be related to the use of land in the area or to spatial matters (i.e. aspects that affect how a place works), and must conform with various regulations.
Before an NDP can be adopted it needs to go through a consultation, independent examination and a referendum. If the NDP passes through a referendum it will become part of the local statutory development plan and will form the basis for determining planning applications in an area.
Who is involved in it?
An NDP has to support the strategic development needs of the wider area outlined in the local development plan. However it can shape and influence where that development will go and what it will look like.
Policies included in an NDP will need to be related to the use of land in the area, or to spatial matters (i.e. aspects that affect how a place works).
The NDP must adhere to certain rules and regulations. It must:
Have regard to national policies i.e. the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF),
Have regard to desirability of preserving the settings of listed building(s),
Have regard to desirability of preserving the character and appearance of any conservation area(s),
Ensure it contributes towards sustainable development,
Be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the local plan (Council will advise on this),
Be compatible with EU obligations (SEA where relevant, habitats regulations, human rights etc).
Can we stop development from happening in our area?
No, Neighbourhood planning is about shaping the development of a local area in a positive manner. NDPs can guide development to be more appropriate to local context and help decide where it goes. NDPs cannot plan for less development than in the Core Strategy Document.
Can a neighbourhood plan promote more development than the local plan permits?
Yes. The National Planning Policy Framework makes reference to the opportunity for neighbourhood plans to promote more development than is set out in the local plan.
What is the difference between a Town Plan and an NDP?
Town Plans cover all things important to a community (e.g noise, litter, parking, etc) whereas NDPs relate to the use and development of land. Town Plans remain valid tools for town councils to use and provide a more informal basis on which to highlight some planning issues.
What is the relationship between the District’s Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plans?
Neighbourhood Planning falls into a hierarchy of planning documents. Neighbourhood plans must be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the adopted development plan for the local planning authority, national planning policy and a number of other regulations. The Local Plan/Core Strategy contains the over-arching policies for the whole district whereas the neighbourhood plan will focus on the local area marked out in the neighbourhood boundary plan.
The basic hierarchy of the planning structure is:
- National – The National Planning Policy Framework
- Local – Herefordshire – Local Plan/ Core Strategy
- Neighbourhood – Bartestree & Lugwardine Neighbourhood Development Plan.
How does it work? What is the process?
As NDPs are focussed with neighbourhood areas, therefore each NDP will be slightly different. But there are five basic steps to creating an NDP. The five basic Steps are:
- 1. Define the neighbourhood. The parish or town council steering group, and where there is no parish council a neighbourhood forum, formally submit a neighbourhood area application to local authority. The local authority publicises the application for a minimum of six weeks.
- 2.Prepare the plan. Once approved the preparation of the plan can begin. The steering group will engage with the community, notify statutory consultees and build an evidence base to justify the eventual policies and proposals. There are numerous consultation tools available to the steering group. This stage must include a six week consultation period to publicise the proposals and consider responses.
- 3. Independent check. Once the plan has been completed the plan must be submitted to the local authority. The local authority will publicise the completed plan for six weeks. An independent examiner will be selected and he or she will be then examine the plan to make sure it conforms with all relevant rules and regulations, and consider any representation if he or she wishes. The examiner will recommend one of three options: that the Plan proceeds to a referendum, proceeds to referendum with amendments, or that it should not proceed.
- 4. Community referendum. If the plan passes the examination, then it will go to a referendum. The referendum ensures that the community have a final say on whether a neighbourhood development will come into force. The Council will organise the referendum. The majority (more than half) of people voting must vote yes to the plan for it to be adopted by the council. The people living in the area who are also registered to vote in local elections will be eligible to vote in the referendum. If the NDP will have significant implications on residents from neighbouring areas, the independent judicator may request that they also are given an opportunity to vote in the referendum. In areas where a business NDP is being created, the local businesses will also have a vote in the referendum. In the case of Horncastle, it is a community led NDP; therefore businesses will not get a vote, but will be consulted on the NDP.
- 5.Legal Force. If the majority of voters vote yes, the local authority will then bring the plan into force. The plan will then form part of the decision making process. Decision makers will be legally obliged to take into account the NDP when considering proposals for development in the neighbourhood area.