FAQs

There are no specified time limits for neighbourhood plans or orders; this will be decided by the community and this must be specified on the plan or order.

Neighbourhood Plans should support the strategic development needs set out in Local Plans, including policies for housing which will have been informed by the area’s Objectively Assessed Housing Need.

Where local planning authorities are in the process of preparing their Local Plan and collecting data on housing need it will be important for the neighbourhood planning groups and local authorities to work together and share evidence in order to develop consistent plans.

Neighbourhood plans need to be aspirational but they also need to be realistic and deliverable. Ultimately this is down to the qualifying bodies but it’s in no-one’s interest if a plan is prepared that is not deliverable. As part of your support to neighbourhood plan makers you could share the viability assessment undertaken as part of your local plan work with parish councils and neighbourhood forums as a starting point for their own plans.

Land owners are key members of the community and should be engaged in the neighbourhood planning process to help in the development of a plan or order. Early engagement at an early stage can help overcome possible conflicts.

Anecdotally there is concern among groups about working with landowners, their role in the process and possible conflict of interest. Involving landowners is far more beneficial than not. From their own development management experiences LPAs are well placed to advise on managing this form of engagement, helping to develop practice and protocols and to ensure that the process is transparent to all.

It is the responsibility of the parish council or neighbourhood forum to prepare any neighbourhood plan or order. They could write the plan policies themselves, or they could get help or ask another group to do it, but they are responsible for it. Advising on the policies in a neighbourhood plan is one of the ways a LPA can help support neighbourhood planning work e.g. some LPAs are asking their DM teams to look at the policies in emerging neighbourhood plans to see if they could use them.

Before the examination, the local planning authority has to check that the submitted plan/order is legally compliant, i.e. the procedural steps have been followed. The authority doesn’t have to check whether the plan/order proposal meets the basic conditions until after the examination report has been received.

The examiner’s report is not legally binding, but the authority must have clear reasons for departing from any of the examiner’s recommendations.

After a successful referendum, the local planning authority should check the document is still compliant with EU and European Convention of Human Rights law, before the neighbourhood plan or order is made.

No – the regulations require six weeks consultation by the qualifying body on a draft plan or order proposal before submission. The responses to the consultation then have to be thought about and the plan amended where appropriate. The local planning authority must then publicise the submitted proposal for another six weeks and invite representations.

It is advisable and expected. Experience from the neighbourhood planning front runners is that where local elected members are involved they play a key role and can help progress the work significantly – giving it profile with the community and within the wider council and helping to access resources for the work.

The presumption in favour of sustainable development is principally a means of ensuring that plans, both local and neighbourhood, are positively prepared to achieve the best social, economic and environmental outcomes for an area. Neighbourhood plans need to have appropriate regard to this national policy. The presumption makes clear that planning applications which are in line with local plans and neighbourhood plans should normally be approved. This should be a strong incentive to put local and neighbourhood plans in place.

Planning applications are decided in accordance with the local plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. An emerging neighbourhood plan may be considered as a material consideration depending on the stage the plan has reached and the level of consultation undertaken. It is for the decision maker to determine the weight to give to these considerations.

No. However, a neighbourhood development order or community right to build order can be used to grant planning permission for development which complies with the order.

Planning law requires that planning applications are decided in accordance with the local plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. An emerging neighbourhood plan may be considered as a material consideration; this can depend on the stage the plan has reached and the level of consultation undertaken. It is for the decision maker to determine the weight to give to these considerations.

The NPPF makes explicit reference to the opportunity for neighbourhood plans to promote more development than is set out in the local plan.

No. Neighbourhood planning is about shaping the development of a local area in a positive manner. It is not a tool to stop new development proposals from happening and should reflect local and national policies. Neighbourhood plans and orders should not promote less development than set out in the local plan or undermine its strategic policies