Neighbourhood Planning

Neighbourhood planning enables local communities to help shape and promote development in their area. Once adopted a neighbourhood plan becomes part of the planning framework for that area.

As OPDC is the local planning authority for the area, communities can apply to us to establish neighbourhood areas, designate neighbourhood forums and develop neighbourhood plans and/or development orders.


What are the neighbourhood areas in the OPDC area?

OPDC - Neighbourhood Areas September 2017
As of September 2017, OPDC contains the Old Oak Neighbourhood Area and part of the Harlesden Neighbourhood Area.

You can view the boundary area of both of these Neighbourhood Areas on this larger map. 

What's OPDC’s process for determining these applications?

Following receipt of a valid application for a neighbourhood area and/or neighbourhood forum, OPDC must publicly consult on the application materials. This will be for a minimum of 6-weeks. After consultation ends, OPDC officers review any consultation responses to inform their recommendations. Recommendations are set out in reports. These reports are made publicly available.

Officer recommendations are then considered by OPDC’s Planning Committee who provide their recommendations to OPDC’s Board. OPDC’s Board then determine the applications having regard to officer and planning committee recommendations and in accordance with national legislation and guidance as well as any relevant case law (see below).

For applications only within the OPDC area, these need to be considered within 13 weeks following the start of consultation. If applications include areas in the OPDC area and the surrounding boroughs, these need to be considered within 20 weeks.

How we’re supporting neighbourhood planning

We will collaborate with communities interested in neighbourhood planning. We’ll provide appropriate types of support during:

  • the designation of neighbourhood areas
  • establishment of neighbourhood forums
  • development of neighbourhood plans and/or development orders

We may also provide technical and administrative assistance alongside fulfilling legislative and guidance requirements, such as determining applications for establishing neighbourhood areas and forums, and undertaking statutory consultations.

Should you have any questions about how OPDC is supporting neighbourhood planning please contact us via email or call 020 7983 6520.

Government guidance and support

Legislation and guidance for neighbourhood planning is provided at the national level by:

Government provides support for neighbourhood planning through the My Community website, where information about grants and resources is available.

Applications that cross local planning authority boundaries

If an application to establish a neighbourhood area and forum includes areas within the OPDC area and surrounding boroughs, national guidance encourages OPDC and the borough(s) to work together. Guidance suggests that a ‘lead authority’ could be beneficial in managing the process. Lead authorities tend to be the authorities in which the majority of the neighbourhood area application is located. The lead authority coordinates the consultation on the area and acts as a key point of contact for any interim neighbourhood forum. National Planning Practice Guidance identifies the following benefits being realised by identifying a lead authority: 

  • simplifies the process for the community
  • minimises the duplication of work by the local planning authorities
  • provides opportunities for authorities to share resources

Although OPDC and the borough(s) will work together, as individual ‘local planning authorities’, we are required by legislation to assess and determine applications separately for the areas within our authority. 

What factors do OPDC consider in determining an area application?

The factors considered in determining an area application will be set out in OPDC officers’ reports. Legislation and case law provide OPDC with discretion in determining an area application and defining the area’s boundaries.

Case law recommends the development of a ‘factual and policy matrix’ to inform assessments that is specific to each proposed area. Example of the factors that have been used in the factual and policy matrix used by OPDC officers to assess previous neighbourhood area applications has been relevant National Planning Practice Guidance, public consultation responses, the strategic significance of sites and the character of an area.

What factors do OPDC consider in determining a forum application?

The factors considered in determining a forum application will be set out in OPDC officers’ reports. Legislation requires a neighbourhood forum to accord with 4 criteria and for the recommendations to consider 3 elements. The proposed forum needs to relate to a designated neighbourhood area. The legal criteria and considerations are:

4 criteria:

  1. Promoting or improving the well-being of an area
  2. Membership open to individuals who live, work or are elected members in the area
  3. Membership has a minimum of 21 individuals
  4. Written constitution

3 considerations:

  1. Forum has secured, or taken reasonable steps to secure, people who live, work or are elected members for the area
  2. Membership is drawn from different places in the area and different sections of the community in the area
  3. The purpose of the forum reflects (in general terms) the character of the area

If applications to establish an area and forum are submitted at the same time, there is a risk that the designated neighbourhood area may differ from the original area applied for. This could result in the proposed forum no longer meeting the legal requirements for the designated area. As such, OPDC would be required to refuse the application in accordance with the legal criteria and considerations.

Should this occur, OPDC would work proactively with the proposed forum in assessing a new forum application. This new neighbourhood forum application would need to undergo public consultation before it can be designated.

What other ways can communities shape local development?

Neighbourhood planning is one way for local communities to engage with OPDC in planning and shaping their local area. Other opportunities include engaging with the development of the Local Plan, future Supplementary Planning Documents, heritage guidance and commenting on planning applications.

Engagement with local communities has already seen substantial changes made to OPDC's Statement of Community Involvement, OPDC's revised draft Local Plan and has resulted in reconsultations on planning applications. OPDC has also undertaken other engagement activities with local communities which are helping to shape the future of the area. These include projects like the production of the Old Oak and Park Royal Films and the Great Place Scheme. 

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