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Some general principles for Neighbourhood Plans

Find out what Neighbourhood Plans can and cannot contain.

While a Neighbourhood Plan is flexible to some extent in terms of what can be included, you cannot put whatever you like in it. Your Plan cannot conflict with European Union (EU) requirements or the Human Rights Act 1998. Crucially, it must also conform generally with the strategic policies in the Local Plan prepared by your local planning authority. If your local planning authority does not have a recently adopted Local Plan you should ask a planning officer at the authority which plan you should refer to.

What a Neighbourhood Plan can and cannot do

A Neighbourhood Plan can...

  • Decide where and what type of development should happen in the neighbourhood
  • Promote more development than is set out in the Local Plan
  • Include policies, for example regarding design standards, that take precedence over existing policies in the Local Plan for the neighbourhood - provided the Neighbourhood Plan policies do not conflict with the strategic policies in the Local Plan.

A Neighbourhood Plan cannot...

  • Conflict with the strategic policies in the Local Plan prepared by the local planning authority
  • Be used to prevent development that is included in the Local Plan
  • Be prepared by a body other than a parish or town council or a neighbourhood forum.

What can a Neighbourhood Plan contain?

So long as your Neighbourhood Plan complies with the above principles, it can be as narrow or as broad as you wish. But it must be primarily about the use and development of land and buildings. It can also have a say in how buildings should look (their 'design'), or the materials they are constructed from.

Typical things that a Neighbourhood Plan might include:

  • The development of housing, including affordable housing (affordable housing is housing that is not normally for sale on the open market), and bringing vacant or derelict housing back into use.
  • Provision for businesses to set up or expand their premises.
  • Transport and access (including issues around roads, cycling, walking and access for disabled people).
  • 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.

What is the 'Community Right to Build'?

A Community Right to Build Order, which is the mechanism for delivering the Community Right to Build, is a specific type of Neighbourhood Development Order. It allows a local community group to bring forward a small development, which might include proposals for new homes, business premises and/or community facilities, but it must be small scale in comparison to the size of settlement.

A community organisation, not just a parish or town council or a neighbourhood forum, is able to develop a Community Right to Build Order. However, to be eligible, at least half of the community organisation's members must live in the neighbourhood area to which the Community Right to Build Order will apply. The organisation must also exist to further the economic, environmental and social well-being of the area in question. The community can work with partners or go it alone by setting up, for instance, a community land trust.

The process for preparing and adopting a Community Right to Build Order is broadly the same as that for a Neighbourhood Development Order.

Further reading

Deciding if you need a Neighbourhood Plan
Parish Plans
Village design statements

Reference information

Community Right to Build Orders
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