What does a neighbourhood plan cover?

A neighbourhood plan would normally cover a whole parish (the neighbourhood area) but it could cover a smaller area if justified. Neighbourhood areas can also cover more than one parish area, if this is justified and providing all the parishes involved agree to this. One of the first actions needed is for the parish or town council to formally apply to the district council to designate a neighbourhood area. The district council will publicise the application and agree to designate the area unless it has valid planning reasons to identify a revised area.

What will a neighbourhood Plan look like?

It is up to each community to decide what is included in a neighbourhood development plan and how much detail they wish to go into. Policies included in neighbourhood development plans will need to be related to the use of land in the area or to spatial matters. It is likely that wider issues will arise during community engagement in the course of the plan making process.

Can it stop development from happening in our area?

No, the government has made clear that neighbourhood plans are not tools to stop development. They are intended to be enabling documents so they cannot, for instance, promote a lower rate of development in an area than may have already been agreed. They must also be consistent with national and local planning policies.

How long will it take to prepare a neighbourhood development plan?

It will be up to individual areas to decide on the pace at which they wish to progress their plans. However it is anticipated that on average

the process is likely to take around two years.

What will it cost to prepare a neighbourhood plan?

This will depend on the size, scope and complexity of the plan being prepared. The parish or town council will be responsible for all costs associated with preparing the draft neighbourhood plan. This will include the collection of any new evidence or information to support the plan, consultation with the local community and making available copies of the draft plan. Total spend can be less than £5000 or up to £20,000+. Parish councils can apply for grants from the government to develop their plan. Once the plan is sent to the district council, then it becomes responsible for organising and funding subsequent stages including the examination and referendum.

If we have a neighbourhood plan does this mean that we don’t have to use the local authority’s existing planning policies?

No. However, when made, neighbourhood plans will be statutory planning documents. They will form part of the local development plan and, therefore, will have significant weight in planning decisions.

Which will carry more weight – a neighbourhood plan or the district local plan?

The weight (importance) that is attached to a particular policy can only be decided when considering a specific proposal. At a general level neighbourhood plans and the district’s development plan should complement each other.

Who will decide planning applications?

This will remain with the district council as the local planning authority.

In summary – what a neighbourhood plan can and cannot do.

A Neighbourhood Plan can

  • Decide where and what type of development should happen in the neighbourhood
  • Promote more development than is set out in the local plan
  • Include policies, for example regarding design standards, that take precedence over existing policies in the local plan for the neighbourhood – provided the neighbourhood plan policies do not conflict with the strategic policies in the local plan.


A neighbourhood plan cannot…


  • Conflict with the strategic policies in the local plan prepared by the local planning authority
  • Be used to prevent development that is included in the local plan
  • Be prepared by a body other than a parish or town council or a neighbourhood forum.


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