The following has been prepared by Council officers and it is the Council’s interpretation of the legislation contained within the Localism Act 2011.
A neighbourhood plan is a new type of plan, which will focus on a local area rather than the borough as a whole. Producing neighbourhood plans is optional and while the Council will provide technical advice and support, the neighbourhood plans will need to be produced by communities, and the plan making process must be led by a designated “Neighbourhood Forum”.
Neighbourhood plans can establish a vision for an area, include general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood and they can allocate sites for development. They should be about local rather than strategic issues. If adopted, they will form part of the overall development plan for the borough and will be used to assist in the determination of all planning applications in that area.
No – a neighbourhood plan can guide development to be more appropriate to local context and help decide where it goes within the area. A neighbourhood plan cannot stop development and government has made it clear that it is not a tool for residents to oppose proposals for new developments close to them. A neighbourhood plan can only include proposals for an equal (or greater) amount of growth than is set out in the Council’s development plan, regional and national guidance.
This Council has always given local communities the chance to influence the contents of our local planning documents, such as the Local Plan. Some of the concerns raised during consultation events about development are often in relation to strategic concerns, such as school places, GPs, transport and congestion etc. Strategic issues cannot be addressed in a neighbourhood plan.
The development plan for this borough includes:
This Council is already very advanced in the production of the local planning documents, including guidance documents and a range of development briefs for important sites within the borough. In addition, there are various Conservation Area studies covering many parts of the borough and the Council’s village plans are also already at an advanced state. Therefore, we encourage community groups, prior to embarking on a formal neighbourhood planning process, to consider carefully the context and what plans and programmes already exist, and what more a neighbourhood development plan could achieve for their area.
In general terms, any area can have a neighbourhood plan. They can cross local authority boundaries but they cannot overlap with adjoining neighbourhoods, who also wish to prepare a plan for their area. The boundaries of the area will need to be agreed with and approved by the Council.
The topics that neighbourhood plans cover should be restricted to the use and development of land within that neighbourhood. The Council has already produced detailed planning guidance in the Village Planning SPDs, which set out how the Council, with its partners, is addressing the issues raised by residents in their areas and what communities themselves are doing to make their areas better. This guidance therefore already takes a local approach to planning that, to some extent, mirrors the neighbourhood planning processes.
No. There can only be one neighbourhood plan for an area.
Neighbourhood plans can only be prepared where a “Neighbourhood Forum” is formally established. A community group wanting to achieve “Neighbourhood Forum” status can approach the Council and ask for this; formal designation and approval of the Neighbourhood Forum by the Council will be required. A Neighbourhood Forum needs to be made up of a minimum of 21 members, who either live, work or are a Councillor in the area concerned. The Forum will also need to have a written constitution. The neighbourhood plan needs to be supported by the whole community before it can be adopted.
It will be up to individual areas to decide on the pace at which they wish to progress their plans. However, it is anticipated that on average the process is likely to take around three to five years.
Neighbourhood planning does not mean that communities can plan how and what they like. There are still parameters set by national, regional and local planning policies and neighbourhood plans will have to meet a number of conditions:
This will largely depend on how much detail the plan goes into. Neighbourhood Forums would also need to use appropriate, proportionate and up-to-date evidence to support the policies in a proposed neighbourhood development plan. In addition, there are minimum statutory requirements (e.g. Sustainability Appraisal) that will need to be completed.
The Council’s planning policy documents have been informed by robust and up-to-date studies and research into a number of planning topics (e.g. employment, flood risk etc), which also provide advice and information. Such research is kept up to date. See our Local Development Framework research page.
When adopted, neighbourhood plans will be statutory planning documents. They will form part of the local development plan, which is made up of the London Plan and our local planning policy documents (see question 3). Neighbourhood plans, once adopted, will have significant weight in making decisions on planning applications.
The Council has a duty to provide technical advice and practical support to those producing a neighbourhood plan. It has to:
It will be up to the Neighbourhood Forum to pay for the preparation of a neighbourhood plan. The Council will only pay for the independent examination and the referendum, as well as provide technical advice and practical support.
A neighbourhood plan will normally last for five years at which point it should be reviewed. It will also be possible to review the plan within the five year period if necessary.
Contact the Planning Policy team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 8891 1411.
You can find out more about neighbourhood plans and the Localism Act from these sources:
Updated: 26 July 2019