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Deciding if you need a Neighbourhood Plan

If you feel the needs of your community are not reflected in the Local Plan, creating a Neighbourhood Plan may help.


Top tip

If you have already been involved in public consultation when the Local Plan was being prepared, all your concerns and aspirations may already be reflected in the Local Plan. If you are happy with what the Local Plan says, then you may decide that there is no need to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan.

If you feel that the Local Plan does not really address what you would like to happen in your community - maybe it doesn't mention your neighbourhood, or you would like more things to happen that aren't in the Local Plan, or you would like things to happen more quickly - then you should seriously consider preparing a Neighbourhood Plan.

It is important, however, to be aware that Neighbourhood Plans and Neighbourhood Development Orders are not your only options. For example, you could ask your local planning authority to prepare a Local Development Order or a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) (also known as Supplementary Planning Guidance). If you are considering these approaches do be aware that your local planning authority may not be willing to go down this route and your community may have less control over the process and the resulting documents.

Other alternatives are the development of a Parish Plan, Village Design Statement or Community Action Plan, in fact your local area may already have one of these in place. These are non-statutory neighbourhood planning tools so the main difference to consider is that they will carry less weight in the decision-making process than a formally adopted Neighbourhood Plan. Parish Plans and Village Design Statements can, however, be adopted as SPDs but as noted above this will require the co-operation of your local planning authority.

An advantage of a non-statutory neighbourhood planning tool is that their scope does not have to be limited to matters covered by planning law. So you could, for example, cover social issues or activities as part of the vision for your local area. Such documents may also help form part of the evidence base on which your Neighbourhood Plan can be developed.


The monitoring report for the Local Plan can be a useful source of evidence and information

If you do decide a Neighbourhood Plan is the best tool for your area you should not enter into that decision lightly. Preparing a plan will require a lot of time and effort. Although how much time it will take will vary depending on the issues you want to cover and the size of your community. Developing a Neighbourhood Plan may take over 2 years. You will need to involve other people who may not agree with your views. It will require your community to reach a broad consensus on the objectives, key issues and desired outcomes.

So prepare yourself for what is going to be involved. There will no doubt be frustrations along the route, but the ultimate result could be very rewarding. A Neighbourhood Plan should help your community come together, be stronger and more united for having gone through the process. It should be a positive force for change and will give you more control over what happens in your neighbourhood.

Further reading

How to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan
Local Plans
Parish Plans
Village design statements

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