Neighbourhood planning is about giving local people a proper say over what new buildings will look like, where they will be built, and the confidence that they will have the proper support to cope with the demands of new development.
Neighbourhood planning provides a genuine opportunity for local people to influence the future of their area. These powers have been granted through the Localism Act (opens in a new window) and the Regulations (opens in a new window) .
What is a neighbourhood plan?
Neighbourhood plans are planning policy document prepared by local communities. In areas where there is a town or parish council, that council will take the lead in preparing the plan. Elsewhere, the process will be led by a neighbourhood forum that is designated for this purpose.
When adopted, neighbourhood plans become part of the development plan. This means they will sit alongside the local plan for the area and be the first thing considered in deciding whether or not planning permission should be given for new buildings, or for changes to existing buildings.
Neighbourhood plans are about making sure new homes and businesses can be built where and how local people want them. They are expected to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. However they do not automatically grant planning permission, unless they contain a neighbourhood development order or community right to build order. So in most cases, developers will still need to apply for permission. And not everywhere will need to have a neighbourhood plan, particularly if there is not much development being planned, or if the community do not want to take the lead in shaping the development that may happen. Where there is no neighbourhood plan, decisions will still be guided by the area's local plan.
Neighbourhood development plans can be as simple, or as detailed, as local people want, provided that they are in line with national planning policy (opens in a new window) , and the strategic policies for the wider area set out in the adopted local plan. They can cover one or many issues. They can include planning policies setting out criteria against which planning applications will be judged, and they can identify places where houses or other buildings can be built. They can even grant full or outline planning permission for new buildings through a neighbourhood development order or community right to build order, making it easier and quicker for development to go ahead.
Neighbourhood plan areas
Neighbourhood areas for Buckland Newton, Cerne Valley and Loders have been agreed. We are currently seeking your views on what areas should be included in the Piddle Valley neighbourhood plan. Consultation on the neighbourhood area for Portland has now closed, and a decision will be taken by councillors in early March. See Local communities working on neighbourhood plans to find out more.
Interested in preparing a neighbourhood plan?
So for those communities who may be interested in taking forward a neighbourhood plan, here is some advice based on what we have learnt to date.
- The process
There are seven basic steps to preparing a neighbourhood plan or a development order.
- Designating neighbourhood plan areas
Deciding the scope of the plan and who will spearhead the work is a fundamental first step.
- Community engagement
Neighbourhood planning is all about reflecting what local people want, so working with and keeping local people informed is key to success.
- Strategic policies of the Local Plan
Knowledge of the strategic planning policies affecting your area is also important, as your plan must be in line with these policies to pass the independent examination.
- Finding funding and advice
There is support available to local communities preparing neighbourhood plans or development orders.
- Local communities working on neighbourhood plans
A number of local communities are now starting work on neighbourhood plans.
- Gathering information for the plan
You will need to have a good understanding of the issues that you need to address, and the constraints on development in your area.