Neighbourhood Plans are now a well established part of England’s planning framework. The Localism Act 2011 amended the Town and Country Planning Act, to introduce this very local layer of planning. Over 300 neighbourhood plans across England have now passed the referendum stage.
Neighbourhood Plans are prepared by parish councils, in parished areas of England, and by Neighbourhood Forums elsewhere. London is not a parished area. The capital now has one ‘community council’ in Queens Park, but elsewhere the London Boroughs are the layer of local government closest to the community level.
Neighbourhood Plans are described by Locality as ‘a community led framework for guiding the future development. regeneration and conservation of an area’. There is no prescriptive model. Plans can deal with a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues although the specific planning policies in a neighbourhood plan must deal with the development of land and buildings.
Plans may also allocate sites to different uses (e.g. housing or employment). They can designate sites as Local Green Space provided certain national criteria are met.
A Neighbourhood Plan becomes part of the statutory development plan for the area, if successful at a referendum. This statutory status gives them far more weight than some other previous local planning documents, such as parish plans, community plans, and village design statements.
A Neighbourhood Plan must comply with European and national legislation and must have appropriate regard to national policy. It must also be in ‘general conformity’ with existing ‘strategic’ local planning policies.
Over 2,000 neighbourhood areas have been designated across England. For more details of the current picture in London, see at http://www.neighbourhoodplanners.london/