The Localism Act 2011 gives new powers to local communities to shape development in their area.
What is Neighbourhood Planning?
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:
- identify key priorities for a community that relate to use of land
- define where new homes, commercial premises or other development should be built
- identify what new development should look like
- protect locally valued buildings or green space
- add detail to district planning policy
What a Neighbourhood Plan cannot do:
- be used to prevent development happening in an area
- propose less growth than in the Local Plan
- be prepared without community input, consultation and support
- conflict with local, national or EU policies
What is involved?
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 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.. Two other types of community plan which may be more appropriate for particular parishes are
As required by 61(G)(8) Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) a map of all designated areas and progress made is available below.
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:
- that the plan proceed to referendum as drafted
- that the plan proceed to referendum subject to the modifications as set out in the Examiners report
- that the plan should not proceed to referendum
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.
Where can I get help with Neighbourhood Planning?
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.