Stages of Neighbourhood Planning
There are 5 key stages to neighbourhood planning.
- Defining the neighbourhood: town and parish councils are Qualifying Bodies, but parish meetings and community groups where no parish council exists need to apply to be called a 'neighbourhood forum' and prepare a plan.
- Creating the plan: communities can choose to draw up either a Neighbourhood Plan (to establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood) or a Neighbourhood Development Order (granting planning permission for new development to go ahead)
- Independent check: an independent examiner checks that the plan meets the basic standards
- Community referendum: a vote will be held and if more than 50 per cent of people voting in the referendum support the plan or order, then we will bring it into force
- Legal force: once a neighbourhood plan is in force decision-makers will be obliged by law to take what it says into account when they consider proposals for development in the neighbourhood
Neighbourhood Forum applications
When we receive an application for the designation of a 'Neighbourhood Forum' the Local Planning Authority must carry out a validation of the application and then, if all the information required has been presented to the Authority undertake a 6 week consultation on the proposed Neighbourhood Forum proposal asking for representations from the community and others.
The information required is:
- Name of proposed Neighbourhood Forum
- Written constitution for proposed Neighbourhood Forum
- The name of the Neighbourhood Area to which the forum relates and a map identifying that area
- Contact details of at least one member of the proposed Neighbourhood Forum
- A statement explaining how the proposed Neighbourhood Forum meets the legal requirements, containing:
- Details of a minimum of 21 people including:
- Details of whether they live or work or are elected members in the area
- It could also describe their areas of expertise (not a requirement)
- An explanation of how the forum meets legal requirements in terms of its purpose and make up
- Details of a minimum of 21 people including:
When the 6 week consultation period is complete any representations received will be considered, and, if appropriate, the Neighbourhood Forum will be approved for designation by the Portfolio Holder for Planning Services.
Neighbourhood Area applications
When we receive an application for the designation of a 'neighbourhood area' we must carry out a 6 week consultation on the proposed Neighbourhood Area unless the area to be designated is the Parish boundary, in which case a consultation is not necessary.
The application shows the area in which the parish intends to use the new neighbourhood planning powers. This is not a consultation on the Neighbourhood Plans; it is a consultation on the identification of the area for which the Parish or Town Council, or Neighbourhood Forum wish to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan.
Comments on these consultations should consider whether the neighbourhood area is appropriate to be designated.
Creating a Neighbourhood Plan
If communities do want to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan we will:
- Provide a district wide plan to form the context for neighbourhood planning
- Provide site specific policy for areas where there is no Neighbourhood Plan or for issues not covered in such a plan
- Provide technical evidence to help local communities undertake neighbourhood planning and provide other assistance to comply with legal duties to be established by the Localism Act
- Providing the inspection, referenda and adoption service for neighbourhood plans as required by the Localism Act
We may also provide support for the creation of Neighbourhood Plans through:
- Arranging an initial meeting to agree scope and content
- Providing advice on the evidence base available
- Commenting on the plan timetable
- Offering to host an online consultation
- Liaising with the group preparing the Neighbourhood Plan
- Commenting on consultation documents
- Hosting and arranging the examination of the plan
- Arranging the referendum
Other useful information and guides:
- Neighbourhood Planning website
- Planning Aid
- My Community Rights
- Traffic in Villages toolkit
- Neighbourhood Planning Roadmap Guide
- Guidance on how to incorporate woods and trees into your Neighbourhood Plan
For a Neighbourhood Plan to be 'made' so that decision-makers are legally obliged to review the document when making planning decisions, a referendum must take place. The community is asked to vote 'yes' or 'no' to the question: “Do you want Harborough District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for [insert Neighbourhood Area] to help it decide planning applications in the Neighbourhood Area?”
If more than 50% of the people that voted gave a 'yes', then the Neighbourhood Plan is ‘made’ and is used to help determine planning applications in that community.