What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan is a community-led document guiding the future development, regeneration and conservation of an area. It contains a long term vision and aims for the plan area, along with planning policies and proposals to improve new development, protect sensitive locations, provide new facilities, or allocate key sites for specific kinds of development.
It may deal with a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues, such as housing, employment, green space, heritage and transport. The issues focused on depend on the needs of the Neighbourhood Plan area.
When complete the Neighbourhood Plan will be part of the statutory development plan for the area, the other part being the Local Plan. This legal status gives the Neighbourhood Plan far more weight than some other local documents, such as parish plans, community plans and village design statements, as it must be taken into account when planning decisions are made by the Local Planning Authority.
Development Plan for the Area
In order to become part of the statutory development plan for the area a Neighbourhood Plan must satisfy four legal requirements before it can come into force, known as the Basic Conditions:
- It must have regard to national planning policy
- It must contribute to the achievement of sustainable development
- It must be in general conformity with strategic local planning policy
- It must be compatible with human rights legislation and EU regulations.
It should not promote less development than that identified in the development plan for the local area (such as new housing allocations), though it can allow greater growth levels. It can specify policies and guidance on how new development should be designed and where it is located. Neighbourhood Plans can be a powerful tool in shaping the development of a neighbourhood.
The timeframe for the Neighbourhood Plan will be for local people to decide, but it is usually linked to the timeframe of the Local Plan, which for Staffordshire Moorlands runs to 2031.
Understanding the Area
The foundations of a good Neighbourhood Plan will be a robust programme of community engagement and a strong, proportionate evidence base. These make sure that the plan is based on a proper understanding of the area and of the views, aspirations and needs of local people.
Once a Neighbourhood Plan has been completed, it will have to be submitted to the local authority and then be subjected to an independent examination. This will make sure that the proper legal process has been followed and that the plan satisfies the basic conditions.
Locality, the national community development body, has produced a detailed guide to producing Neighbourhood Plans called the Neighbourhood Plans Road Map.