Neighbourhood planning empowers communities to shape the development and growth of a local area through the production of a neighbourhood development plan, a neighbourhood development order or a Community Right to Build Order.
Neighbourhood development plans can, if fully exploited, become part of the local statutory development plan and form the basis for determining planning applications in that area.
A neighbourhood development order enables the community to grant planning permission for the development it wishes to see.
While the planning system provides opportunities for communities to get involved in development decisions that affect them, in practice they have often found it difficult to have a meaningful say. The introduction of neighbourhood planning is intended to put power back in the hands of local residents, businesses, parish councils and civic leaders.
Communities will be in the driving seat of neighbourhood planning. The local parish or town council will lead the work, but in areas which are predominately commercial, neighbourhood planning can be led by a business neighbourhood forum.
The local planning authority must provide support and make the necessary decisions at key stages. For example, it will organise the independent examination and any neighbourhood referendum at the end of the process.
A referendum can be called to ensure that the local community has the final say on whether a neighbourhood development plan, neighbourhood development order or a Community Right to Build order comes into force in their area.
However, for most parishes, taking the neighbourhood plan to referendum will be too time-consuming and costly. For smaller parish councils, in particular, the most productive outcome will be to submit the neighbourhood plan, together with some evidence of community support, to the local planning authority for this to be endorsed through the revised local plan.