What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
Neighbourhood Plans were introduced as part of the Localism Act 2011 and the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 under the Coalition Government to give people more power over development in their area. A Neighbourhood Plan is a community-led planning framework for guiding the future development, regeneration and conservation of an area. It is about the use and development of land and may contain a vision, aims, planning policies, proposals for improving the area or providing new facilities, or allocation of key sites for specific kinds of development. It may deal with a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues (such as housing, employment, heritage and transport) or it may focus on one or two issues only.
To produce a legal Plan there needs to be robust evidence, an examination by Cheshire East Planning and a local referendum on whether to adopt the plan once the draft has been produced. We anticipate this process taking 12 – 18 months.
Why develop a Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan will enable the Parish residents to play a much stronger role in shaping the area in which they live and work. This is because unlike the Parish Plan, a Neighbourhood Plan forms part of the development plan and sits alongside the Local Plan prepared by Cheshire East Council. Decisions on planning applications will be made using both the Local Plan and the Neighbourhood Plan, and any other material considerations such as Greenbelt status or national infrastructure needs.
A Neighbourhood Plan provides an opportunity for communities to set out a positive vision for how they want their community to develop over the next 10, 15, 20 years in ways that meet identified local need and make sense for local people. They can put in place planning policies that will help deliver that vision or grant planning permission for the development they want to see (if any) or refuse permission that is not aligned with the Plan. Recently, the Marton Neighbourhood Plan was fundamental to refusing a Planning Application for 27 houses that was not aligned with their Plan.
What does a Neighbourhood Plan address?
A Neighbourhood Plan can only address the development and use of land but includes the environment and infrastructure that goes with it such as transport and services. This is because if successful at examination and referendum the Neighbourhood Plan will become part of the statutory development plan once it has been made (brought into legal force) by the planning authority. Applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
Neighbourhood Plans may also contain Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders.
What is a Neighbourhood Development Order?
A Neighbourhood Development Order can grant planning permission for specified developments in a neighbourhood area. Once established there would be no need for anyone to apply to the Council for planning permission if it is for the type of development covered by the order. A Neighbourhood Development Order must still be in line with national planning policy, with the strategic vision for the wider area set by the local planning authority, and any other legal requirements.
What is a Community Right to Build Order and what can it do?
A Community Right to Build Order is a form of Neighbourhood Development Order that can be used to grant planning permission for small scale development for community benefit on a specific site or sites in a neighbourhood area.
A Community Right to Build Order can be used for example to approve the building of homes, shops, businesses, affordable housing for rent or sale, community facilities or playgrounds. Where the community organisation wishes to develop the land itself (subject to acquiring the land if appropriate), then the resulting assets can only be disposed of, improved or developed in a manner which the organisation considers benefits the local community or a section of it.
The legislation also provides a mechanism that enables housing developed using a Community Right to Build Order to be retained as housing that is affordable in perpetuity. This is achieved by disapplying certain statutory rights of tenants of long leases to buy their freehold and the statutory right given to qualifying tenants to acquire social housing.
What evidence is needed to support a Neighbourhood Plan?
While there are prescribed documents that must be submitted with a Neighbourhood Plan there is no ‘tick box’ list of evidence required. Proportionate, robust evidence should support the choices made and the approach taken. The evidence should be drawn upon to explain succinctly the intention and rationale of the policies in the draft Neighbourhood Plan.
Neighbourhood Plans are not obliged to contain policies addressing all types of development. However, where they do contain policies relevant to housing supply, these policies should take account of latest and up-to-date evidence of housing need.
To obtain this evidence, the Parish Council will be distributing questionnaires to seek your views on what you want. When you receive this, please ensure that it is completed and returned as the bigger the response the more weight the Neighbourhood Plan will carry.