What is neighbourhood planning?
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Localism Act 2011 gives local communities the ability to shape development in their areas where they live and work, to create local planning policies through the production of a neighbourhood development plan (neighbourhood plan). These documents give communities a real opportunity to guide and shape development in their area.
Neighbourhood plans can be produced by organisations (known as qualifying bodies) including parish councils, town councils, or a designated neighbourhood forum. In the Norwich City Council area there are no parish or town councils. In this instance, a properly constituted neighbourhood forum must be formed. Neighbourhood plans allow local people to influence future changes in their area by setting out policies to help get the right type of development for their community, but the plans must still meet the needs of the wider area. Neighbourhood plans are not intended to prevent all development within an area, or reduce the amount of development as required in the Adopted Local Plan
Neighbourhood areas and neighbourhood forums
The first stages of preparing a neighbourhood plan are designation of the area to be covered by the plan (the neighbourhood area) and, in an area without a parish council, designating a neighbourhood forum.
In the case of Norwich, any applications for designation of a neighbourhood area or forum will be considered by Norwich City Council, following public consultation.
When a neighbourhood area and forum is designated, the forum can commence preparation of the plan.
When prepared, the plan will sit alongside the Local Plan and be taken into account when decisions are being made on planning applications.
The neighbourhood plan must:
- be in line with policies in the Joint Core Strategy, the Site Allocations and Development Management Policies Plan.
- follow legal requirements as set out in the Neighbourhood Planning Guidance.
Because plans will affect what can be built, they must go through a number of formal procedures:
- a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)/Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) screening
- public consultation
- an examination by an independent expert
- a referendum to find out the level of local support for the plan
This is to make sure everyone has the chance to comment on them, and they meet tests laid down by law.
We have a statutory duty to give advice or assistance to designated neighbourhood forums in the city we consider appropriate for the purpose of, or in connection with facilitating the preparation of neighbourhood plans.
For a step-by-step guide to the neighbourhood planning process visit the Neighbourhood Planning website.