Neighbourhood Planning and Heritage

Where they are in place, neighbourhood development plans form part of the development plan for the area, along with the local planning authority's local development plan.

The development plan is the basis for all planning permission decisions (ref. 1). The neighbourhood plans takes precedence over the local authority's development plan in some cases (described more fully below). 

So neighbourhood plans can be a potent influence over our environment and its future. See Historic England's Neighbourhood Planning web pages for more information.

Creating neighbourhood development plans

Creating a neighbourhood development plan is a complex process, and the information below is intended as a general introduction. Find more detail from government guidance on neighbourhood planning.

Where there is a willing neighbourhood forum or parish council it may produce a draft neighbourhood development plan. It must first have a 'neighbourhood area', in which the plan is to have effect, designated as such by the local planning authority, the initial plan proposal then has to be consulted upon in accordance with procedural regulations (ref. 2). It is then submitted to the local planning authority which will publish the draft plan and invite representations on it (ref. 3).  If the local planning authority is satisfied that the plan meets basic conditions, it is examined by an independent examiner (ref. 4). If it satisfies certain basic conditions then it must be put to a referendum (ref. 5). If more than half of those voting vote in favour then the document must be adopted as the neighbourhood development plan for that area and part of the overall development plan for all future planning applications. The basic conditions the proposal must satisfy are (ref. 6):

  1. Having regard to the policies in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and any advice contained in guidance issued by the Secretary of State, it is appropriate to make the plan;
  2. The plan contributes to the achievement of sustainable development;
  3. The plan is in general conformity with the strategic policies contained in the development plan for the area of the authority (or any part of that area); and, 
  4. The plan is in general conformity with retained EU obligations (in respect of matters such as the protection of habitats).

All the conditions must be satisfied before any plan is put to a referendum.

The plan can contain policies on any type of development with the exception of excluded development - see below (ref. 7):

  1. Development that would be a matter reserved for county council planning (minerals related development)
  2. Waste related development
  3. Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects or development described in Annex 1 of the EU Council Directive on environmental impact assessments (ref. 8).

Effect of a neighbourhood development plan

Once adopted, a neighbourhood plan forms part of the overall development plan and planning permission decisions have to accord with that development plan (and therefore the neighbourhood plan) unless material considerations indicate otherwise (ref. 1).

One key material consideration is the NPPF. If a proposal accords with the neighbourhood plan but fails the policies within the NPPF then it is likely to be refused as it will not be sustainable development as defined in the NPPF, which is the objective of all plans and decisions.

To resolve a policy conflict between a local development plan and a neighbourhood plan, it will be necessary to establish whether the policy in question is strategic. If it is, the local development plan will take precedence. If the policy in question is not strategic, the most recent plan to be adopted will take precedence. (ref. 9).