The Localism Act 2011 with associated regulations (Neighbourhood Planning General Regulations 2012) introduced a statutory regime for neighbourhood planning allowing parish/town councils or other relevant bodies such as residents' associations to produce a development plan for their neighbourhood if they wish.
Parish/town councils are automatically empowered for this purpose but other bodies will need to apply to their local planning authority ("LPA") to be recognized officially as a "neighbourhood forum". The next step then for the communities is to have their area designated as a "neighbourhood area" following which the LPA will publicize the applications.
Public Notices placed by the LPA will commence a period of consultation which if no major objections are received will allow the communities to commence preparation of neighbourhood development plans. If major objections are received the LPA will need to consider these and possibly specify further periods for discussion to overcome the objections.
The objective of the process is for the communities to establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in their neighbourhood. Additionally; people in the communities can use neighbourhood planning to permit the development they want to see - in full or in outline – without the need for planning applications through implementation of "neighbourhood development orders" in the same way as permitted development.
Proposed neighbourhood development plans or orders need to gain the approval of a majority of voters of the neighbourhood to come into force. If proposals pass the referendum, the LPA is under a legal duty to bring them into force. The proposed plans will, however, need to meet a number of conditions before they can be put to a community referendum. These conditions are to ensure plans are legally compliant and take account of wider policy considerations (e.g. national policy, conformity with the overall development plans for the local area). An independent inspector will review a proposed neighbourhood development plan or order to ensure that it appropriately meets the conditions before it can be voted on in a local referendum.
LPAs will continue to produce overall development plans that will set the strategic framework within which neighbourhood development plans will operate.
Benefits include firstly the neighbourhood plan process being a positive way of engaging local people in the planning process and secondly the process can help to promote and deliver the objectives of the LPA’s own development planning through local input. An additional financial benefit via the Community Infrastructure (CIL) regime is the requirement for the LPA to pay a proportion of its CIL receipts to a community where a Neighbourhood Plan is in place.
How can Pure Business Law help?
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If you would like to discuss any legal issues, disputes concerning any planning issues, or anything raised in this article please contact us and speak with one of our solicitors. Pure Business Law is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and is a licensed member of the Law Society of England & Wales.