What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

Neighbourhood planning was introduced in the Localism Act 2011. It is an important and powerful tool that gives communities statutory powers to promote what is special and distinctive about their neighbourhood and ensure the right type of development is delivered in the right place for the community.

The point of a neighbourhood plan is that it is community led, so put together by the people who live and work in the area, rather than the Local Planning Authority. No two communities are alike, so although there will be similarities to other Neighbourhood plans, each one is tailored specifically to that community.

The word ‘planning’ can lead people to think that this process is all about adding more building in the area. It may not be possible to prevent ‘some’ further development in the future, but at least the community can have some involvement in where that takes place and what it looks like. The plan can also act as a way of protecting valued green space.

The process

There is a legal framework to produce a neighbourhood plan.

  • Apply to the local planning authority for designation of the Neighbourhood area.
  • A Neighbourhood planning group must engage with their community to find out what is important to them about where they live and what their vision is for the local area.
  • Once all evidence is gathered to back up the ideas that the community want to see, the next part of the process is to write the planning policies.
  • Once your draft neighbourhood plan is complete, it is submitted to the local authority.
  • They will check that all the correct procedures have been followed and that all required documents have been submitted, the local authority will then arrange for an independent examiner to check that the plan meets the basic conditions.
  • Finally, if your plan passes these tests, the local authority will organise a public referendum (vote), so that everyone who lives in your neighbourhood area can decide whether they support it.
  • If more than 50% of the voters are in favour of the plan, the local authority must bring it into force. This means that it will form part of the statutory development plan for that area, so any decisions about whether or not to grant planning permission in the neighbourhood area in the future must be made by taking your neighbourhood plan into consideration. In Worcestershire this means it would sit alongside the South Worcestershire Development Plan. https://www.swdevelopmentplan.org/