Neighbourhood development plans
Neighbourhood development plans are produced by parish councils and establish local planning policies for the development and use of land within a neighbourhood
The purpose of Neighbourhood Development Plans is to set out policies to be used in the determination of planning applications.
What should a neighbourhood plan look like?
There are no set guidelines which describe what a neighbourhood plan should contain or look like. However, a neighbourhood plan must address the development and use of land, it should support the strategic development needs set out in the Local Plan and plan positively to support local development in conformity with national and local planning policies.
The content of a neighbourhood plan is likely to contain a series of explanatory text, policies and maps. The policies and objectives of the plan must principally be related to the use of land and development. Neighbourhood plans may:
- identify local allocations for development – such as employment and residential uses – the emerging Stroud District Council Local Plan identifies the level of residential and employment growth
- outline specific requirements for local allocations – such as open space and community facilities
- include policies which relate to all development within the plan area - such as local design policies.
The policies in a neighbourhood plan are the most important part of the plan since once a plan is ‘made’ the policies will be the starting point for determining planning applications.
To give the plan the best chance of success, planning policies must be worded clearly, concisely and positively. They should also be based on robust evidence, clearly structured and add value to the existing policy framework. Policies should be clearly linked to the neighbourhood plan’s vision and objectives and seek to address the issues identified in the neighbourhood area.
Neighbourhood planning can inspire local people and businesses to consider other ways to improve their neighbourhood than through the development and use of land. This may lead to the identification of specific action or policies to deliver these improvements. National Planning Practice Guidance suggests these wider community aspirations, not relating to development and use of land, should be set out in a companion document or annex.
Finally, it is important to remember you are not starting from scratch. The emerging Stroud District Council Local Plan sets out a series of mini visions for parish cluster areas, which were developed through extensive consultation with the community. They reflect the distinct qualities, issues, constraints and opportunities that exist in different parts of the District and neighbourhood plans would be a useful tool for taking these visions forward.
What is the relationship between neighbourhood plans and the local plan?
The adopted Stroud District Local Plan, November 2005 is the development plan for Stroud District. The development plan sets out the statutory planning policies and proposals for the whole of Stroud. Neighbourhood plans must be in general conformity with the development plan. Due weight should be given to policies in the 2005 plan according to the degree of consistency with the National Planning Policy Framework. An emerging draft Stroud District Local Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State by the Council in December 2013. The emerging plan is at an advanced stage therefore the reasoning and evidence informing the Local Plan process may be relevant to the consideration of the basic conditions against which a neighbourhood plan is tested. To give neighbourhood plans the best chance of success, it is important that communities work closely with Stroud District Council to agree the relationship between existing and emerging policies.
Stroud District Council will take an active role in advising and supporting local communities in their plan preparation by sharing evidence and information and ensuring the neighbourhood plan fits with the strategic policies of the Stroud development plan and national policy.
If successful at examination and referendum the neighbourhood plan will become part of the statutory development plan once it has been made (brought into legal force) by Stroud District Council. Applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
Link to Stroud District Local Plan 2015
Neighbourhood Planning Basic Conditions
Stroud District Council has a duty to ensure neighbourhood plans meet all procedural requirements and a set of basic conditions prescribed by the legislation. On submission of a draft neighbourhood Plan or Order, Stroud District Council decides whether all procedural matters have been satisfied and the draft plan can proceed to examination. At examination, Stroud District council will decide whether the content of the draft plan meets, amongst other things, each of the following criteria:
- a) having regard to national policies and advice contained in guidance issued by the Secretary of State it is appropriate to make the order (or neighbourhood plan).
- b) having special regard to the desirability of preserving any listed building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest that it possesses, it is appropriate to make the order. This applies only to Orders.
- c) having special regard to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of any conservation area, it is appropriate to make the order. This applies only to Orders
- d) the making of the order (or neighbourhood plan) contributes to the achievement of sustainable development. e) the making of the order (or neighbourhood plan) is in general conformity with the strategic policies contained.
- f) the making of the order (or neighbourhood plan) does not breach, and is otherwise compatible with, EU obligations
- g) prescribed conditions are met in relation to the Order (or plan) and prescribed matters have been complied with in connection with the proposal for the order (or neighbourhood plan).
Further guidance on the basic conditions can be found on Planning Practice Guidance
Whilst the consideration of these criteria is greatly enhanced by an independent examination, the recommendations of the examiner are not legally binding; consequently, the decision whether a neighbourhood plan meets the prescribed basic conditions and can advance to a referendum lies with Stroud District Council.
It is therefore essential that communities preparing a neighbourhood plan email firstname.lastname@example.org at an early stage in the process to ensure that their neighbourhood plan meets all procedural requirements and these criteria.