In 2011 communities were given new powers to plan for the future development of the area in which they live and work

The Localism Act 2011 sets out a series of measures with the potential to achieve a substantial and lasting shift in power away from central government and towards local people.

They include: new freedoms and flexibilities for local government; new rights and powers for communities and individuals; reform to make the planning system more democratic and more effective, and reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally.

It means that people who live or work in an area can come together and create their own statutory Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP).  Using this tool we can create our own policies about the use of land, which will have real power because planning applications and appeals must be assessed against them.

There is a straightforward process to follow, which is laid down in Regulations published in 2012  and amended in 2015.  NDP policies must be supported by evidence and a number of formal periods of consultation are built into the Regulations to allow everyone who lives or works in the area an opportunity to contribute, whether or not they are members of the Forum.

Our public Facebook group allows you to share your ideas, hopes and concerns at any time and this website will also display a consultation response form for the duration of the formal consultation periods.

Our aims:

The Forum will create a NDP for our area based upon the issues identified and agreed by you, your neighbours and work colleagues.  Some of those issues may be:

  • Where you want new homes, shops and offices to be built
  • What new buildings should look like
  • Which new buildings should be given planning permission
  • Protecting our green spaces
  • Preserving and enhancing historic areas and buildings
  • Supporting new opportunities for tourism

The 5 steps of neighbourhood planning

Step 1 – Defining the Neighbourhood Area.

Defining the neighbourhood area is the first step. See here a map of the Birkenhead & Tranmere Neighbourhood Area, formally designated by Wirral Council on 27 July 2015.  So, the first step is the process for Birkenhead & Tranmere is now complete.

Step 2 – Preparing the NDP

The object of the Forum is “to promote or improve the social, economic and environmental well-being of the Birkenhead & Tranmere area”.  It is vital for the whole community to be involved in preparing planning policies for the development and use of land in the neighbourhood area.

Everyone is invited to have their say in planning for the provision of decent and adaptable residential, commercial and community spaces that meet the needs of people who live or work in the area.  There will inevitably be areas of disagreement but resolving these before the NDP is published will help to ensure greater certainty for developers and communities alike – and fewer ‘nasty surprises’ in terms of potentially harmful development.

Step 3 – Independent check

Once our NDP has been produced in draft form it will be checked by an Independent Examiner to establish that it meets the basic conditions set out in the Regulations.  If significant changes are suggested then the Forum may need to run an additional consultation exercise.

Step 4 – Community referendum

Once the Independent Examiner is satisfied, the Council will organise (and pay for) a yes/no referendum about the NDP.  Anyone who is:  1) registered to vote in local elections, and 2) lives or works in the Neighbourhood Area may vote in this referendum.

If more than 50% of those voting say “yes”, then the NDP must be “made” (i.e. attributed full legal force) by the Council.

Step 5 – Legal force

Once the NDP has been made, it will be a powerful document.  Decision-takers will be legally obliged to take its policies into account when they consider development proposals in the neighbourhood area.