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What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan is a community-led framework for guiding the future development, regeneration and conservation of a town. It is intended to give communities more of a say in the development of their local area and can deal with a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues (such as housing, employment, heritage and transport) that are relevant to the whole town. Once approved by the Local Planning Authority, the plan goes to referendum in the area it affects. If accepted, the plan forms part of the local planning policy.

Why does Neighbourhood Planning matter?

The planning system helps decide what gets built, where and when. It is essential for supporting economic growth, improving people's quality of life, and protecting the natural environment. In theory, planning was always supposed to give local communities a say in decisions that affect them. But in practice, communities have often found it hard to have a meaningful say. By enabling local councils to create a Neighbourhood Plan they are giving some planning power back to local residents, employees and business, councils and civic leaders - those who know best the needs of their local areas.

The main stages of a Neighbourhood Plan are:

  1. Define the neighbourhood – boundaries are decided and an application is made to the local planning authority by the leaders of the Plan
  2. Prepare the plan – this is the main stage of community involvement and will lead to the creation of the Plan document
  3. Independent check - an independent examiner will check that it meets the right basic standards
  4. Community referendum – 50% of people voting must be in favour of the Plan
  5. Legal force – The Plan is official – and planners are obliged to consider proposals for development in the neighbourhood against the Neighbourhood Plan.