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 Kingston.
- 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 a Neighbourhood Plan?
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 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. Currently this is what Kingston is doing.
- 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 preparing Neighbourhood Development Plans and Orders is the same.
What is the role of the local planning authority (South Hams District Council)?
The local planning authority, which is the South Hams District Council, SHDC, is expected to give assistance and advice on how to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan. But SHDC cannot control the preparation process. Nor can it produce a Neighbourhood Plan on behalf of a local community.
As the local planning authority, SHDC, has to agree and formally designate the area that is to be covered by the Neighbourhood Plan. In our case SHDC agreed to designate the whole of the Parish of Kingston as a Neighbourhood Plan area. SHDC can provide information and help to gather evidence to inform the preparation. It can also help with the consultation process.
SHDC will also be required to check the proposed Plan to ensure that it meets all the relevant legislation and regulations. Once they are satisfied, and after public consultation, SHDC arrange for an independent examination of the Plan to take place. If the Plan passes the examination, SHDC as the local planning authority, will be responsible for arranging a local referendum on the Plan. It is therefore very important that there is every opportunity for discussion and consultation on the Plan to ensure it represents the majority views in the Parish.
What is the relationship between a Neighbourhood Plan and the Local Plan?
A new Joint Local Plan, www.plymswdevonplan.co.uk/ has been published for the South Hams, West Devon and Plymouth. Together, the Joint Local Plan and the Neighbourhood Plan comprise the development plan for the parish. A Neighbourhood Plan must therefore conform generally with the policies and proposals of the Joint Local Plan.
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 Joint Local Plan.
Typical things that a Neighbourhood Plan might include
- The development of housing, including affordable housing and including bringing vacant or derelict housing back into use.
- Providing for businesses to set up or expand their premises.
- Transport and access issues (roads, cycling, walking, disabled).
- The development of schools, places of worship, health facilities, leisure and entertainment facilities, community and youth centres and village halls.
- The restriction of certain types of development and change of use, for example to avoid too much of one type of use.
- The design of buildings.
- Protection and creation of open space, nature reserves, allotments, sports pitches, play areas, parks and gardens, and the planting of trees.
- Protection of important buildings and historic assets such as archaeological remains.
- Promotion of renewable energy projects, such as solar energy and wind turbines.