Neighbourhood Planning

Overview

A Neighbourhood Plan is produced by the parish/town council and sets out local planning policies and allocates land for development. Once a Neighbourhood Plan is approved via a referendum it then has to be used to assess planning applications.

It is therefore a very powerful way of providing significant local influence over the planning process. It is however primarily a development plan which means that its purpose is to support development not prevent it.

Allied to Neighbourhood Plans are Neighbourhood Development Orders which gives local councils the power to grant planning permission for development without the need for a planning application.

The National Context

Neighbourhood Planning activity is extensive in Cornwall. The approach adopted in Cornwall is widely regarded as being best practice and we have been contacted by the Planning Advisory Service who are interested in using our approach as a case study nationally to assist other authorities. National support is available via Planning Aid and Locality which is funded by government.

Neighbourhood Planning Across Cornwall

Neighbourhood planning has been enthusiastically taken up by communities all over England. In Cornwall there are currently 38 Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDP) underway, 6 of those are clustering, which gives a total of 54 parishes actively involved in Neighbourhood Planning. One draft NDP has already been submitted to Cornwall Council for consideration before it goes to formal public consultation. However, this does not account for a further 30 parishes that are considering undertaking a NDP. The below map gives a picture of the notifications received across Cornwall.

Neighbourhood Planning Activity Cornwall April 2014

Cornwall Council has also been proactively working with other organisations in supporting Parishes through providing 23 training workshops across Cornwall and has held 3 further workshops with representatives from the Dept.Communities and Local Government (DCLG). 190 people attended the 3
workshops representing 76 Parishes. The aim of these workshops was to give an overview of Neighbourhood Planning and give an overall picture of the different types of plans that are being developed across England.

Before deciding to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan you need to consider what existing policies are in place for your area and whether you need to add further detail by producing a Neighbourhood Plan. You will also want to consider the costs, resources, skills and time involved in producing a plan.
Think carefully about what you are trying to achieve and make sure that a neighbourhood plan is the right tool for the job. Some of the alternatives you could consider are:

Alternatives

  • Town Plans and Parish Plans
  • Pre-applications Discussions
  • Commenting on Planning Applications
  • Village Design Statements
  • Landscape Character Assessments
  • Conservation Area Assessments
  • Affordable Housing Delivery
  • Feeding into Strategic

DCLG stated to Councils: “We want to build on the early success and the new duty on local planning authorities – to support and advise parish councils, neighbourhood forums and community right to build organisations and pay for examination and referendum – meaning that you will play a critical role. We do of course want to ensure that local planning authorities receive the appropriate funding to enable you to fulfil this duty in line with new burdens principles”. Funding received by Cornwall Council from DCLG is given to account for the additional costs involved with introducing, adapting to and meeting the new duty to local planning authorities for each neighbourhood plan.

Cost to Local Planning authority

  • Holding the referendum £1,800 to £30,000
  • Officer time requirements in providing expertise and advice to local councils on Neighbourhood Plans
  • Administrative costs and legal fees for processing the statutory elements of a Neighbourhood Plan

The National Context

Support will be available in several formats, with the emphasis very much on self-help and local initiative. This approach supports local communities in developing their own knowledge and skills, protects the independence of plan creation and retains local ‘ownership’ of the process. It is also efficient and helps to reduce costs. However, face-to-face support may be available when it’s required. The main sources of support are:

Advice

The Cornwall Council website provides a comprehensive source of information including a toolkit to help local council’s wishing to carry out a Neighbourhood Plan. Officer support is provided principally from Localism and Planning however, the extent of this is limited due to capacity and is clearly set out in guidance as to what support we are able to offer.

Cornwall Council’s webpages provide checklists and guidance which may be useful – click here.

Information includes:

Toolkits – including a Neighbourhood Planning Consultation and Engagement toolkit and Project Plan template. These are in easily adaptable formats for posters, documents, community engagement tools that you can download to assist with planning your NP

· A Frequently Asked Questions resource
· ‘Signposting’ to other sources of support