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Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Comment from No. 5 Chambers

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill received its first reading on 7 September 2016: There has been considerable coverage suggesting this increases the weight to be accorded to an emerging neighbourhood plan. That needs to be qualified.

There are 2 key changes in the Bill:

  • Clause 1 (Post-Examination Plan) would amend section 70(2) TCPA 1990 to require a decision-maker to have regard to a "post-examination neighbourhood plan", defined as a situation where (a) the Examiner's Report has been published and (b) a decision has been taken by the LPA to send the plan to referendum [Note: the term “pre-referendum plan” is more apt]


  • Clause 2 (Approved Plan) would amend the definition of the development plan for the purposes of section 38(6) PCPA 2004 ("in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise"), such that a neighbourhood plan which has been the subject of a successful referendum but not yet formally adopted (or “made”) , termed “an approved plan”, automatically forms part of the development plan unless the LPA decides not to make the plan following the referendum [Note: again, the better term is “post-referendum plan”]

In effect, Clause 1 requires a decision-maker to have regard to a very advanced but still emerging neighbourhood plan, and Clause 2 accelerates the short final stage between referendum and final adoption. Such plans are at the very end of their “emerging” phase, roughly the last 2 months. In practice, such emerging neighbourhood plans have been accorded very substantial weight by decision-makers, as “advanced plans” under NPPF 216.

For all neighbourhood plans at earlier stages, weight will continue to be governed by conventional application of NPPF 216, see also PPG Neighbourhood Planning, Paragraph: 007  Reference ID: 41-007-20140306 and Paragraph: 082  Reference ID: 41-082-20160211.

However, this is unlikely to be the last word, as the experience of the Housing and Planning Bill demonstrates considerable interest in both Houses of Parliament for additional amendments to neighbourhood plan provisions.”

James Corbet Burcher
No5 Chambers