What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan, also called a Neighbourhood Development Plan, gives the community an increased ability to influence planning within the local area. It sets out policies on the development and use of land and – once the plan is formally adopted – it will become a statutory document, and part of the Local Plan. This means that it will be a “material consideration” when making decisions on planning applications.
Why does Northleach need a Neighbourhood Plan?
Our local planning authority, Cotswold District Council, is preparing a new Local Plan that will set out how much, what type and where new development should take place over the coming years. Northleach has been identified as one of several “key settlements” and as a result, the town is expected to provide 130 new houses by 2031. Rather than leave decisions entirely in the hands of the planners, we would like to have some say in how, where and when this development takes place. A Neighbourhood Plan makes this possible.
What is the difference between a Parish or Town Plan and the Neighbourhood Plan?
In 2010 Northleach produced a Town Plan, which covers everything of importance to the community, from dog fouling to recycling. A Neighbourhood Plan will deal with planning matters only – concerning land use and the development of land.
Can a Neighbourhood Plan stop development from happening in the area?
No – a Neighbourhood Plan cannot stop development and the government has made it clear that it is not a tool for residents to oppose proposals for new developments. A Neighbourhood Plan can only include proposals for an equal (or greater) amount of growth than is set out in the Local Plan.
So what is a Neighbourhood Plan good for then?
The Neighbourhood Plan can guide development to be more appropriate to the local context and influence where it goes within the area. It can be used to set out the vision for an area including the allocation of land for development and policies for the use of land. This could include the location of land for new homes, businesses or other uses, and the protection of green spaces.
What is the process for producing a Neighbourhood Plan?
The Neighbourhood Plan has to be “in conformity” (i.e. in agreement with) with wider planning policy at both district and national level, and therefore it has to follow a well-defined process, as shown in the diagram (source: Locality). The key stages are:
- designation of the neighbourhood area (i.e. the area covered by the plan)
- develop policies and draw up draft plan
- statutory six-week public consultation period
- independent examination, and
- local referendum.
How much will it cost to produce a Neighbourhood Plan?
We estimate that it will cost around £15,000 to produce the Neighbourhood Plan for Northleach. The Town Council applied for and was awarded a government grant of £7,000 towards these costs. The remainder will be covered from the Town Council’s reserve funds, which – thanks to careful financial planning in previous years – are sufficient for the task!
What happens if planning applications for development come forward before the Neighbourhood Plan is ready?
The planning authority, Cotswold District Council, will decide on the outcome of the planning application, as it does now. The Neighbourhood Plan will not be taken into consideration until the end of the publicity period prior to examination, and it cannot become a formal part of planning policy until it has been approved at a local referendum.
Where can I find further information?
You can find out more about neighbourhood plans from these sources:
- Neighbourhood Planning – Giving communities more power in planning local development – www.gov.uk/government/policies/giving-communities-more-power-in-planning-local-development/supporting-pages/neighbourhood-planning
- How to shape where you live: a guide to neighbourhood planning – www.cpre.org.uk/resources/housing-and-planning/planning/item/2689-how-to-shape-where-you-live-a-guide-to-neighbourhood-planning
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