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What is neighbourhood planning?


Neighbourhood planning gives your community the opportunity to plan for your local area, to decide what the place you live in should look like and define how your neighbourhood should grow and change in the future.

Neighbourhood planning gives your community the opportunity to set out proposals such as:

  • developing a shared vision for your neighbourhood
  • choosing where new homes, shops, offices, and other development should be built
  • identifying and protecting local green spaces
  • having a say on what new buildings should look like

While neighbourhood planning gives your community the opportunities to develop you own area, any neighbourhood plan must align with national planning policies as well as policies contained in our local plans for that area. It is important to mention that neighbourhood plans cannot block development already agreed through the council's local plan or development which has already been agreed.

Who can start neighbourhood planning activity?

Anyone can identify the need for neighbourhood planning. However, only the relevant parish or town council can initiate this and in doing so, they will be responsible for the progression of the work required, in consultation with us.

In the absence of a parish or town council, you can create a neighbourhood forum (a community organisation) to carry out this role. The same measures for neighbourhood planning activity apply to both designated neighbourhood forums and parish / town councils. Its membership is open to:

  • anyone living in the neighbourhood area concerned
  • anyone working there
  • elected members of the county council, whose area falls within the geographic area concerned

Groups can either work individually or jointly in which case a lead authority would need to be nominated. For the purposes of this web page, we refer to all bodies undertaking neighbourhood planning activities as 'neighbourhood planning groups'.

Types of neighbourhood planning activity

There are three types of neighbourhood planning that your community may wish to do:

  • Neighbourhood plan
  • Neighbourhood development order
  • Community right to build order

Neighbourhood plan

In addition to existing planning policies for your area, your neighbourhood planning group can develop further policies relating to the future development and use of land in your neighbourhood. This can include general or site specific policies.

Whilst our development plan for your area sets out the broad policies which neighborhood planning activity must conform with, your neighbourhood plan can provide greater detail. Future planning applications will be judged against a neighbourhood plan as well other relevant statutory plans. 

Neighbourhood plans have to meet particular tests (known as 'basic conditions') before they can be brought into force. You can find out more about basic conditions at Top tips on Neighbourhood Planning: Understanding the Basic Conditions. Before a neighbourhood plan can be brought into force it must pass an independent examination and gain support from a majority of residents through a referendum. Once a plan is in force, planning decisions for that area will take into account its policies as well as those set out in the current local plan. 

Please see our Neighbourhood planning step by step process page for information on developing a neighbourhood plan.

Neighbourhood development order

Neighbourhood development orders allow your community to identify development proposals which can go ahead without having to go through the formal planning application process.. Examples are:

  • extensions of a certain size or type
  • major development schemes
  • new houses (including affordable)
  • a new shop or pub
  • employment units

See our Neighbourhood planning step by step process for information on implementing a neighbourhood development order.

Community right to build order

Community right to build orders allow you to grant planning permission for your local community to build small-scale housing developments, community facilities or shops. Any benefit from this should stay within your community, for example providing or maintaining a playground, village hall or delivering affordable housing.

Any local community organisation can create a community right to build order, not just parish and town councils or a neighbourhood forum.

What neighbourhood plans cannot do

Neighbourhood plans cannot block development already agreed through our local plan, or development that has already been granted planning permission.

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