Solicitor Kayleigh Chapman, in our leading Planning & Environmental law team, explains Neighbourhood Plans and neighbourhood planning, as introduced by the Localism Act 2011.
What are Neighbourhood Plans?
Section 38A(2) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 provides that a “Neighbourhood development plan is a plan which sets out policies (however expressed) in relation to the development and use of land in the whole or any part of a particular neighbourhood area specified in the plan”.
The aim of the introduction of Neighbourhood Plans (“NP”) was to give communities the opportunity to shape development in their area. A NP is intended to influence development in the local area but should be in line with strategic policies in the local plan and national planning policies.
There are over 230 NP in force in England. You can check if there is a NP in force in your neighbourhood or if one is in preparation by asking your local planning authority.
Once adopted, the NP will form part of the development plan for the area. This means that planning permission should be determined in accordance with the development plan and other development plan documents, including the NP, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
NPs should not be used to block new developments in their entirety but can shape where that new development is located and the design (look) of that development.
NPs do not need to deal solely with residential development but can also include policies in respect of business development, environment and transport.
What Can Neighbourhood Plans Not Do?
The NP cannot attempt to supersede national planning policy and legislation. Therefore the NP cannot attempt to restrict development which is subject to Permitted Development Rights.
The NP cannot introduce speed controls for roads, such as introducing a maximum speed limited.
Revised National Planning Policy Framework (“NPPF”)
The revised NPPF confirms the approach taken by the 2016 Ministerial Statement on NPs. The new paragraph 14 of the revised NPPF provides that where there is a NP but the local plan is not up-to-date, “the adverse impact of allowing development that conflicts with the neighbourhood plan is likely to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits”, provided:
- The NP became part of the development within two years or less before the decision is made;
- The NP contains policies and allocations to meet its identified housing requirement;
- The local planning authority has at least a three year supply of delivery housing sites; and
- The local planning authority’s housing delivery was at least 45% of that required over the previous three years
This means that provided the conditions above are met, planning applications for residential development which conflict with the NP should be refused.
Local Authorities are also under an obligation to provide neighbourhood planners with a housing need figure. The NP should endeavour to make provision for this housing requirement. This requirement, along with the second condition of paragraph 14 of the revised NPPF, should encourage current draft neighbourhood plans to make positive policies for the supply of housing in their area.
Paragraph 30 of the revised NPPF provides that an NP takes precedence over non-strategic policies in a local planning authority’s local plan where they are in conflict. However, if the local planning authority subsequently adopts revised or new strategic or non-strategic policies these policies will take precedence over the NP where applicable. Accordingly, neighbourhood plan groups may wish to consider updating the NP where any substantial changes to local plans are made.
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This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.