12. Under the provisions of the Localism Act, local communities now have the opportunity to prepare their own neighbourhood plans. These plans set out policies and proposals to manage development and change in small areas and would be supported by powers for communities to grant planning permission for new development directly through Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders. Neighbourhood plans, like the statutory area-wide local plans which planning authorities must prepare, are subject to a process of independent examination and adoption, with the additional requirement for a local referendum.
13. Typically, a neighbourhood plan along these lines might be prepared for a rural or suburban parish administered by a parish council; however since Norwich has no parishes, the scope for neighbourhood planning in the city (and which areas it might be suitable for) is at present unclear.
14. The city council would welcome proposals for community-led neighbourhood plans for individual parts of Norwich to be brought forward where these help to promote beneficial development, regeneration or neighbourhood enhancement in accordance with the presumption in favour of sustainable development and the general principles set out in the NPPF.
15. Neighbourhood plans are required to be in general conformity with and should not undermine the strategic policies of the local plan (NPPF paragraph 184). In relation to this document and the Site allocations plan this means that they should not conflict with the agreed spatial planning objectives for greater Norwich set out in the adopted JCS and reproduced in the table following paragraph 33.
16. To demonstrate general conformity, the city council will expect any emerging policies and proposals in neighbourhood plans to accord with these strategic objectives and also to explain their relationship to the policies of this plan and proposals for individual sites in the Site allocations plan.
17. In the event that there is a conflict between a policy in a neighbourhood plan and the provisions of this plan, the government’s expectation is that (so long as it has demonstrated general conformity with strategic policies) the neighbourhood plan should take precedence. However, to provide clarity and certainty for the council, the local community and prospective developers, the reasoning for any difference in approach in planning at a local level should be clearly set out and supported by evidence, for example that a policy and proposal would help to meet an overriding identified community need in a neighbourhood which would significantly outweigh the strategic objectives already in place.