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Neighbourhood planning is a tier of the planning system which seeks to give communities more control over the future of their area. Neighbourhood planning is intended to provide an opportunity to help change attitudes towards development through positive engagement by local communities


The government has brought about significant changes to the planning system through the Localism Act 2011. The proposals are founded on the principles of localism, with less ‘top-down’ prescription and more ‘bottom up’ involvement by both planning authorities themselves, and by local people and businesses.

The government envisages that through neighbourhood planning, communities can bring positive benefits from new development.

What is Neighbourhood Planning?

Neighbourhood planning is a set of tools that enable communities to shape the future of the places where they live and work. The Localism Act introduces new permissive rights which include the preparation of Neighbourhood Development Plans, Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders.

A neighbourhood plan can establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in a defined neighbourhood area. The plan might specify, for example, where new homes and offices should be built, and what they should look like. The plan could also set a vision for the future, and can be detailed or general depending on what local people want.

A neighbourhood development order can directly grant planning permission for certain specified kinds of developments within a neighbourhood area. Permission could be full or outline, could have conditions attached and could be site specific or grant more generalised development rights across the neighbourhood area. Where people have made clear that they want development of a particular type, it will be easier for that development to go ahead.

The community right-to-build process is instigated by a ‘community organisation’ where the community decides to bring forward specific development proposals for the benefit of the community. This might include community facilities and affordable housing. Proposals which have the agreement of the local community through a ‘community referendum’, and meet minimum standards, will not need to go through the normal planning application process.

The process for preparing a neighbourhood plan, neighbourhood development order and the community right-to-build process are very similar. So much of the information relating to the preparation of a neighbourhood plan will be relevant to all neighbourhood planning processes.

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