OPDC planning framwork

Neighbourhood Planning Q&A

Neighbourhood Planning is a community led process that can help to shape local neighbourhoods and inform the way money is spent on infrastructure such as new rail stations, road junction improvements, cycle paths, schools, community centres and health facilities.

A community starts this process by establishing a Neighbourhood Forum and Area and then producing a Neighbourhood Plan and / or a Neighbourhood Development Order. A Neighbourhood Plan will help shape, promote and guide development within an area, at a neighbourhood level and scale.

The process can appear complicated, and as the local planning authority, we want local communities and businesses to understand this process so they can be better informed and respond to public consultation for future neighbourhood plans. 

What is Neighbourhood Planning?

It’s a community led process that helps shape, promote and guide development within an area, at a neighbourhood level and scale. It is also able to inform the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) spending.

CIL is a tax that local planning authorities can charge developers building in their area. Money raised can be used to help build new infrastructure, such as new rail stations, road junction improvements, cycle paths, schools, community centres and health facilities.

4 key stages in Neighbourhood Planning:

  • Stage 1: An interim Forum is formed – this is a proposed forum that can submit an application for a forum and area to the local planning authority, OPDC.
  • Stage 2: Once an application is submitted, a public consultation takes place. OPDC planning officers will review responses and consider the area and forum applications and put forward a recommendation to the OPDC Planning Committee and Board.
  • Stage 3: OPDC’s Planning Committee and Board will then consider the recommendation.
  • Stage 4:  If approved, the Neighbourhood Forum can start production of a Neighbourhood Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan must undergo a public consultation and independent public examination, before it is sent to a referendum by the local Boroughs and it needs a 50% majority for it to then be ‘made’.

It is worth mentioning at this point that a Neighbourhood Area and Forum can be created separately or at the same time, and a Neighbourhood Plan can cross local authority boundaries.

What are the key considerations for OPDC/planning authorities?

  • OPDC won’t determine any applications for designating a Neighbourhood Area or Forum until a public consultation is completed
  • Before the public consultation OPDC must ensure any new proposed Neighbourhood Area does not include land within an existing Neighbourhood Area
  • The proposed Neighbourhood Forum needs to have at least 21 members and meet relevant requirements set out in the Localism Act (2011)


Neighbourhood Forum

5 key considerations when determining an application

The 5 key considerations when determining the appropriateness of a Neighbourhood Forum are:

  1. Are they promoting or improving the economic and character environment of the area?
  2. Is the Forum open for members to join who live, work or are elected Councillors within the proposed Neighbourhood Area?
  3. Are there 21 members?
  4. Does the membership include different places with the area and represent different sections of the community? And does it reflect the character of the area?
  5. Does it have a written constitution?

Neighbourhood Plan

What are the timeframes?

The timeframes for the production of a Neighbourhood Plan, from start to end, is around 18-24 months. The Neighbourhood Plan must undergo at least one round of public consultation and an independent public examination, before going to referendum and if supported by a 50% majority, being ‘made’.

What are the criteria for a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan needs to conform with the strategic policies set out in the Local Plan for the area, in this case strategic policies identified in OPDC’s Local Plan (which are currently identified as polices within chapters 3,4 and 11), and the Mayor of London’s London Plan. It also needs to be consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance.

What a Neighbourhood Plan can do?

A Neighbourhood Plan can:

  • Promote more development
  • Shape where and what type of development should be built
  • Use examples from other Neighbourhood Plan’s in the country
  • Provide policies that don’t conflict with the Local Plan and London Plan policies
  • The Neighbourhood Plan and Local Plan should work together

What can't a Neighbourhood Plan do?

  • It can’t conflict with the Local Plan’s strategic policies or the Mayor of London’s London Plan
  • It can’t be used to prevent development set out in the Local Plan
  • It can’t change the speed limits for the roads within its area

What support is available if establishing a Neighbourhood Plan?

  • Local authority planning officer support
  • Apply for grants from Locality
  • Central Government support

What role does a Neighbourhood Plan play?

Within the wider planning framework, a Neighbourhood Plan, once made, forms part of OPDC’s Development Plan, along with the Local Plan, West London Waste Plan and the London Plan. 

View the presentation

Published: 19 July 2017

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