What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan provides a new way for local communities to influence the planning of the area in which they live and/or work.
Their legal basis is provided by the Localism Act 2011.
Neighbourhood Plans give communities more direct power to plan the areas in which they live. Neighbourhood Plans can be used to:
• Develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood.
• Set planning policies for the development and use of land.
• Give planning permission for development the community wants to have.
Neighbourhood Plans therefore offer a powerful new planning tool for local communities.
Who can prepare a Neighbourhood Plan?
Unlike Local Plans, Neighbourhood Plans are not prepared by the local planning authority. There are two types of body that can prepare a Neighbourhood Plan:
• Parish and town councils. – In areas where a parish or town council exists, these are the only bodies who can prepare a Neighbourhood Plan. This is the case in Modbury.
• Neighbourhood forums – where a parish or town council does not exist, only bodies that have made an application to the local planning authority can prepare a Neighbourhood Plan. Such a body is known as a neighbourhood forum.
What is the Neighbourhood Planning Process?
There are two main mechanisms for neighbourhood planning. Each will enable a community to achieve a different outcome and so communities should consider what they want to achieve and then decide which mechanism will enable them to do this:
• Neighbourhood Plans (which may be known as Neighbourhood Development Plans) will enable a community to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood by setting planning policies to shape the future development and use of land in their area. This is the case in Modbury.
• Neighbourhood Development Orders – will help implement a shared vision by granting planning permission, whether full or outline, to certain types of development or development in certain locations.
The process for developing Neighbourhood Development Plans and Orders is the same.
The role of National Planning
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these should be applied. It provides a framework within which locally-prepared plans for housing and other development can be produced. The National Planning Policy Framework must be taken into account in preparing the development plan, and is a material consideration in planning decisions.
Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan
The Joint Local Plan (JLP) is the strategic document covering integrated planning, development and infrastructure across the area until 2034. Neighbourhood Plans are intended to sit alongside the Joint Local Plan as part of the legal framework for planning and should reflect local needs and issues. Modbury is categorised as a Local Centre which means that it provides services for its surrounding area and has a designated target for provision of new housing.
The role of South Hams District Council in Neighbourhood Planning
The local planning authority (South Hams District Council) is expected to give assistance and advice on how to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan. But the local planning authority cannot control the Neighbourhood Plan preparation process. Nor can it produce a Neighbourhood Plan on behalf of a local community.
The local planning authority has to agree and formally designate a neighbourhood area that is to be covered by the Neighbourhood Plan. This has been done and the area is the whole of Modbury parish.
The local planning authority can provide information and help to gather evidence to inform the preparation of the Neighbourhood Plan. It can also help with the consultation process.
The local planning authority will also be required to check the proposed Neighbourhood Plan to ensure that it meets all the relevant legislation and regulations. Once content, it will have to arrange for an independent examination of the Neighbourhood Plan to take place. If the Neighbourhood Plan passes the examination, the local planning authority will be responsible for arranging a local referendum on the Neighbourhood Plan. It is therefore very important that there is every opportunity for discussion and consultation on the Neighbourhood Plan.
What is the relationship between a Neighbourhood Plan and the Joint Local Plan?
Together, the Joint Local Plan and the Neighbourhood Plan comprise the development plan for the area covered by the Neighbourhood Plan. A Neighbourhood Plan must conform generally with the policies and proposals of the Local Plan prepared by the local planning authority.
What can a Neighbourhood Plan contain?
A Neighbourhood Plan must be about the use and development of land and buildings. It can set out how much, what type and where development should take place. It can also have a say in how buildings should look (their ‘design’). It cannot be used to prevent development that the local planning authority has identified as being needed in the Local Plan.