Councils will be obliged to set out their policies on the provision of advice and assistance to neighbourhood planning groups from the end of July, under regulations made by Parliament yesterday.

Regulation 4(a) of the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 (Commencement No 3) Regulations brings section 6 of the act into force on 31 July.

This requires local planning authorities to set out their policy for discharging their duty to give advice or assistance to qualifying bodies to facilitate proposals for neighbourhood development plans (NDPs) or neighbourhood development orders (NDOs), including proposals for the modification of NDPs.

Also from 31 July, regulation 4(b) brings into effect the requirement under section 13(2) of the act for local planning authorities to set out policies for involving interested parties in the preliminary stages of plan-making in their statements of community involvement.

As of today (16 January), the commencement order brings into effect provisions under sections 8(1) and 8(3) requiring local planning authorities to identify the strategic priorities for the development and use of land in their area.

Under this provision, according to the explanatory memorandum, councils’ monitoring reports must “make clear the extent to which they are relying on policies in a spatial development strategy to deliver their strategic priorities, and where the relevant policies are to be found”.

The regulations also give full force to powers under sections 9 and 10 of the act for the secretary of state to direct pairs or groups of councils to prepare joint development plans and to invite county councils to take over plan-making functions from districts. This measure also comes into effect today.

Regulation 3, meanwhile, which will come into force on 31 January, formally brings into effect the requirement for councils or the secretary of state to notify neighbourhood planning bodies of planning applications or alterations to applications in their area where an NDP has been adopted or examined, unless the neighbourhood planning group has opted out.

Further provisions in force from the end of this month allow councils to amend NDPs or NDOs where they consider that the modification does not materially affect any planning permission granted by the order or policies in the plan.

Source: Bryan Johnston, Planning Resource, 16 January 2018