Parish and town councils and neighbourhood forums can write a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) for their area. The NDP can set out policies and plans for that area, like a Development Plan Document but on a very local scale. Subject to conforming to national policies, as well as local plan policies for the area, and gaining support through a referendum of the local area, this plan will be adopted as a formal part of the development plan. This means that planning decisions have to be made in accordance with the neighbourhood plan (and other parts of the development plan) unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
The neighbourhood plan cannot cover strategic issues, for example mining or major development, but can guide local issues. For example the plan should be able to say which important green spaces will be protected, or could identify sites that are appropriate for new local shops or a small affordable housing development. NDPs could also guide design standards in their area, to make sure that new development is of a high quality.
NDPs have to conform with 'the strategic priorities' of the relevant local plan, but in planning decisions, if there is a conflict between a neighbourhood policy and a non-strategic local policy, the neighbourhood policy will take precedence. 'Strategic priorities' are defined in the National Planning Policy Framework as:
Because NDPs are included in the development plan they should only cover land use planning issues, and not broader local concerns, for example crime or health, that Parish Plans can address.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) provides some guidance on what the scope of NDPs might be able to be. NDPs cannot plan for less development than the local plan, but they can plan for more.