Neighbourhood Planning provides an opportunity for communities to take a proactive approach to planning for the future of their neighbourhood. This can be done through a Neighbourhood Development Plan, often referred to as a Neighbourhood Plan, a Neighbourhood Development Order, or a Community Right to Build Order.
What a Neighbourhood Plan can do:
What a Neighbourhood Plan cannot do:
In a parished area such as Sedgemoor, a neighbourhood plan must be led by the Town or Parish Council. Sedgemoor District Council would strongly encourage any Town or Parish Council to contact us to discuss the circumstances, and key priorities for communities thinking of engaging in Neighbourhood Planning. Depending on local circumstances, there may be easier ways to achieve priorities. Sedgemoor District Council has been working with several communities to help them decide if a neighbourhood plan is the right way forward, and have produced the guide Planning for Local Communities [1.21MB] . Two other types of community plan which may be more appropriate for particular parishes are Village Design Statements and Parish Plans - please read the briefing note available to download at the bottom of the page for a general explanation of different types of community plan.
Designating a Neighbourhood Area
The first step of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan is for an application for designation of a Neighbourhood Area to be made to the District Council. This application must include a plan of the area that is to be designated.
The District Council will carry out a 6 week period of consultation, and after consideration of comments received will confirm their decision on designation.
Preparing a Draft Plan
Initial community engagement must be carried out to identify key priorities and policy themes. There are lots of good examples of 'made' policies and good practice. More information and useful links can be found in the guidance section below.
Following the gathering of evidence, consultation with the local community and drafting of the plan, a formal 6 week period of consultation must be carried out in accordance with the regulations. Comments should be considered and any amendments made before the final draft plan is submitted to the District Council as Local Planning Authority. A further formal 6 week period of consultation will follow.
A Plan must then be checked for compliance with the basic conditions, and legal conformity by an Independent Examiner. Unlike with a Local Plan, the Independent Examiner is not testing the plan for soundness or other material considerations. Once the examination has been concluded a report will be submitted to both the District Council and Parish or Town Council. This will make one of three recommendations:
It is the responsibility of the District Council to arrange a referendum in the area. If more than 50% of eligible voters vote in favour of the plan, than the District Council will make the plan within 8 weeks of the referendum assuming no legal challenge is made. Once 'made' the Neighbourhood Plan forms part of the Development Plan for the area, and planning decisions should be made in accordance with the Development Plan, unless there are other material considerations. The District Council is not required to make the plan where it considers that the making of the plan would breach or otherwise be incompatible with any EU or other human rights obligations.
Sedgemoor District Council will agree with the Neighbourhood Planning Group the level and nature of the help, advice and assistance that can be given. There is a wealth of additional information and good practice guidance available and part of the District Councils role is to signpost to this. Locality provides help and advice with neighbourhood planning and will also administer government grants and technical guidance. More information is available on the Locality website.
The following links should also be helpful as pointers towards further resources available on the Internet.
The Ashcott Neighbourhood Plan was formally adopted as part of the development plan for the district on 19th October 2016.
Following the designation of Axbridge as a Neighbourhood Area, and as part of the development of the Neighbourhood Plan for the town, Axbridge Neighbourhood Planning Group recently completed a "call for sites". The group are now working on progressing their draft plan.
The Burnham and Highbridge Area Neighbourhood Plan was formally adopted by Sedgemoor District Council in October 2018
Sedgemoor District Council has approved the designation of the parish of Cannington as a Neighbourhood Area, in accordance with the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012.
The Cheddar Neighbourhood Development Plan was formally adopted by Sedgemoor District Council at Full Council on 17th October 2018.
Sedgemoor District Council has approved the designation of the parish of Nether Stowey as a Neighbourhood Area, in accordance with the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012.
Sedgemoor District Council has approved the designation of the parish of North Petherton as a Neighbourhood Area, in accordance with the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012.
Sedgemoor District Council has approved the designation of the parish of Puriton as a Neighbourhood Area, in accordance with the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012.
Examiner Janet Cheesley has been appointed to carry out an independent examination of the Wedmore Neighbourhood Plan.
The Wembdon Neighbourhood Plan was formally submitted to Sedgemoor District Council in December 2018 and consultation is now open for 6 weeks from 4 January 2019.