What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
The Localism Act 2011 gives town and parish councils the power to prepare Neighbourhood Plans. A Neighbourhood Plan gives communities an opportunity to directly shape the local area, they cannot be used to stop development or be contrary to the Local Plan (i.e. they cannot propose less development than the Local Plan) but they do allow the community to work with the District Council to have a say on what development should look like, where it would be appropriate and include other matters in the plan which are important to the local community (for example it can highlight areas which should remain as public open space, what facilities the Parish has got and what it has not and the aspirations of the community etc.).
Once adopted a Neighbourhood Plan carries full statutory weight as part of the Development Plan for the area and due regard must be given to the Plan when making decisions on planning applications.
To produce a Neighbourhood Plan the Parish Council must first resolve to undertake the project. Following a resolution the first step towards the plan is the designation of a Neighbourhood Area.
Once the area is designated the Parish Council must engage with the community in order to write the plan, the District Council is obliged to help with this process but it must be led by the Parish Council.
Once the plan is prepared it will be submitted to the District Council which will then ensure it has been prepared correctly and meets the basic standards. There will then be a publication period, after which the District Council will facilitate an independent examination into the Neighbourhood Plan. Provided that the Examiner recommends that the Neighbourhood Plan is taken forward there will then be a referendum, the plan requires the support of the majority of those that have voted in the referendum.
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