Neighbourhood Planning – Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Neighbourhood Plan ?
A Neighbourhood Plan is a new type of local plan normally, but not necessarily, at parish level and which was introduced as part of the Localism Act 2011. The section of the act that relates to Neighbourhood Planning is Schedule 9. Note that a Neighbourhood Plan sits below - but must not conflict with - the Local Authority ‘Local Plan’, which itself sits below but must not conflict with the ‘National Planning Policy framework’. The plans at local level together form the Development Plan and are used by the Local Authority to determine planning applications.

Who can prepare Neighbourhood Plans ?
Neighbourhood Plans may be developed by Parish or Town councils, or a Neighbourhood Forum. An application to a Local Authority for an area to be Designated as a Neighbourhood Development Plan area can be any area, and include land within the boundaries of one or more civil parishes, or a designated area with a single civil parish. However the area designated for most Neighbourhood Plans follows the boundary of a single civil parish. Once an area is Designated by the Local Authority the Qualifying Body for the Neighbourhood plan is the Parish or Town Council or the Neighbourhood Forum.

How is a Neighbourhood Plan prepared  ?
Neighbourhood Plans are normally developed by a community working together to decide how their local area should develop and grow in the future, although most Neighbourhood Plan teams have found that they have also benefitted from some level of professional external support. Neighbourhood planning is not compulsory, and is an option available to Parish and Town Councils and Neighbourhood Forums.

What influence does a Neighbourhood Plan have ?
While a Neighbourhood Plan can influence the type, design, location and mix of new development, it cannot block any new development required by the Local Plan to meet the Local Authority’s existing and future needs. A Neighbourhood Plan cannot include Policies which relate to matters which are determined at a level above the Local Authority i.e. at County or Government level, (e.g. education, minerals and highways), although it can include aspirational statements that cover matters within these areas.

When a Neighbourhood Plan has been ‘made’ (i.e. the plan has been through all the formal process reviews, been endorsed by a local referendum and then formally adopted by the local Authority as part of the Local Development Framework suite of documents) the Local Authority are statutorily required to apply the Policies in the Neighbourhood Plan to any planning application in the same manner and to the same extent as though they were policies in the main ‘Local Plan’.    

What is involved and when can we start ?
Local communities can start the early preparation of Neighbourhood plans at any time.
The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 outline detailed requirements for neighbourhood planning. This includes the procedures for designating a neighbourhood area and forum, and making neighbourhood development plans, neighbourhood development orders and Community Right to Build Orders. Note that Government is currently working on production of further regulations on neighbourhood planning and neighbourhood planning referendums and guidance on this which will follow later this year.

Are any other communities in Warwickshire already working on a Neighbourhood Plan?
Yes, lots. These links lead to details of plans either already made and fully in place, currently under consultation or still in development:

·      The following County Council websites also offer excellent guidance and support on Neighbourhood Planning, although there are probably many others that I have not found yet:

Are there other types of plan, other than a full Neighbourhood Development plan ?
A Neighbourhood Plan sets out the Vision and Objectives, Policies (with supporting evidence) and general development principles for a designated area. There are two other types of planning powers local communities can use:

All three types of neighbourhood planning powers can be used either exclusively or in conjunction with each other. This does not affect the ability for local areas to continue to prepare Parish (or Community) Plans or Village Design Statements. 

What support is available ?
Neighbourhood plans are prepared by local communities but the Local Authority has a legal obligation to assist, and provide guidance and technical assistance when necessary. However there is no obligation on a Local Authority to provide financial support to a community who are developing a Neighbourhood Plan. The Government has funded four independent organisations to support the preparation of neighbourhood plans:

Is grant funding available to help communities develop a Neighbourhood Plan ?
Yes, you can apply from the website. Typically an amount of about £8000 per plan may be available, but the sum is variable depending on a range of factors. Check their website for details.

Where can I find more information? (Also look at our Resources page here)
There is a wealth of information available from a wide variety of sources, some of which are listed below:

  • The My Community website also contains lots of helpful information, including help with NDP policies, engaging with stakeholders, avoiding legal challenges and technical support advice from experts in the field. The links on this page about resources are particularly useful;
  • The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has published the following guides::