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Steering Group Activities
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan is a community-led framework with statutory powers for guiding the future development, regeneration and conservation of an area. It is about the use and development of land and may contain a vision, aims, planning policies, proposals for improving the area or providing new facilities, or allocation of key sites for specific kinds of development.
Neighbourhood planning, introduced by 2011’s Localism Act, gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area. It allows communities to choose where they want their homes, shops and local industry to be built, what they should look like, what infrastructure should be provided and what needs to be protected.
More than 1,500 communities across the country have taken first steps towards producing a neighbourhood plan for their area. This represents over 8 million people, or 15% of the UK population.
All 81 of the neighbourhood plans proposed at local referendums to have been held so far have resulted in ‘Yes’ votes, on average by an emphatic 88% on a 34% average turnout.
Your Lamerton Parish Council is proposing that we (the community) produce such a plan to help guide and shape the design of our village in the future.
It may deal with a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues (such as housing, employment, heritage and transport) or it may focus on one or two issues only. These may be issues that are relevant to the whole neighbourhood or just to part of the neighbourhood. This is for those producing the plan to decide.
Over the coming weeks you will see and hear more on this subject as we move towards calling a village meeting to discuss and hopefully gain your approval for the proposal that we undertake creation of our own Neighbourhood Plan.
Why is it important?
Why is a Neighbourhood Plan important?
Producing a Neighbourhood Plan has advantages over other kinds of plan (such as parish or community plans) because it enables communities to take the lead in their own neighbourhoods in producing part of the statutory development plan for the area (see below). Neighbourhood Plans have real statutory force whereas, without a Neighbourhood Plan, there is little potential for local input to new development proposals.
Community groups or parish/town councils preparing plans have the opportunity to engage properly with the wider community right from the beginning of the plan-preparation process, to make sure it genuinely represents the range of wants and needs in the local area. It is a plan prepared by a community that helps shape development in the area in which they live and community involvement should be an on-going process of engagement and refinement rather than a stop-start series of exercises.
Important first steps are to make sure that the proposal to produce a Neighbourhood Plan is known about by as many people as possible and to identify those local partners who can support the plan-making process and help to get local people involved.
Neighbourhood Plans set policies and make allocations for development. These plans or orders have statutory weight and decision-makers will be obliged, by law, to take what it says into account when considering proposals for development in the area that the plan or order covers.
A Neighbourhood Plan must comply with European and national legislation and must have appropriate regard to national policy and be in general conformity with existing strategic local planning policy. It should not promote less development than that identified in the development plan (West Devon Borough Councils present draft ‘Our Plan’) for the local area (such as new housing allocations). It can allow greater growth levels, but it can specify policies and guidance on how new development should be designed, orientated and located.
Effective community engagement and involvement is essential right from the beginning of the process. Good community engagement will create a well-informed plan and a sense of ownership. A failure to do so may increase the risk of an adverse outcome at the referendum stage.
A robust programme of community engagement and proportionate evidence base should help to make sure that a neighbourhood plan is based on a proper understanding of the local area and of the views, aspirations, wants and needs of local people. Producing a clear project plan with key milestones could be very helpful in guiding the plan-making process.
Once a Neighbourhood Plan has been completed, it will have to be submitted to the local authority and then be subjected to an independent examination. This will make sure that the proper legal process has been followed and that the plan meets the basic conditions, including general conformity with strategic local policy.
Neighbourhood Plans can be a powerful tool in shaping the development of a neighbourhood. The time frame for the Neighbourhood Plan will be for communities to decide, for example whether it is a 5, 10, 15 or 20-year plan.
Summary of Opportunities and Advantages
Summary of Opportunities and Advantages
A Neighbourhood Plan offers several major advantages over simple reliance on the regional plan produced by the local council or on more informal plans, like community plans or parish plans, because:
It is more Relevant
Whilst the Local Plan covers the whole district, a Neighbourhood Plan would be focused on the needs of the neighbourhood and would allow the local community to specify in more detail what they expect from development. For example, it could contain more detail on things like urban design, affordable housing, and preferred sites/locations for housing and other development. This is about guiding and shaping development, not undermining the delivery of development in that area.
The plan could also guide the provision of infrastructure, for example, setting out priorities for new development such as improving pedestrian links, upgrading paths and open space.
It establishes a Dialogue
Those producing Neighbourhood Plans will need to speak to a range of organisations, departments and local partners. This will establish a range of dialogues which would otherwise probably not take place, potentially influencing the activities of the various organisations involved
It allows Site allocation / preferences
Depending on the level of details in the Local Plan, the Neighbourhood Plan allows the community to develop criteria and choose which sites are allocated for what kind of development.
The plan could include things like improvement of streets and public spaces of where community facilities should be located. This would provide the context for negotiations with local authority departments (e.g., highways) and could help to influence their future works or development
and, significantly, it is Community - led
Neighbourhood Plans are led by authorized local community organisations (parish or town councils or neighbourhood forums) rather than the local council’s planning department. This means that community representatives write the plan themselves (or ask others to write the plan but under their control).
The Neighbourhood Plan would be part of the statutory development plan for the area. This means that local authorities or planning inspectors would have to make decisions on the basis of the Neighbourhood Plan and any other material considerations when considering planning applications or appeals in the neighbourhood area. In other words, the Neighbourhood Plan would carry more weight as a consideration in planning decisions, effectively giving the local community more influences and control over the development of their area.