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Neighbourhood Plans

A Neighbourhood Plan forms part of the statutory development plan and is written by representatives of the local community. These plans can provide planning policies relating to the location, type, scale and design of development within their area and hold real weight in the decision making process. The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech reflects a continued commitment by Government to increase the coverage of Neighbourhood Plans across the country.

Since their introduction through the Localism Act in 2011 Neighbourhood Plans have played a major role in shaping development across the country. With around 1,800 designated Neighbourhood Plan areas, they are providing local communities with a real influence on the future of their area.

In March 2015 Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis set out the importance of Neighbourhood Plans in the House of Commons: “If there is an up-to-date Neighbourhood Plan in place, and a developer wants to do something outside those plans...that should be the hardest thing they ever try to do. It should be pretty much impossible to achieve.”

In theory Neighbourhood Plans should be a means of shaping development in an area in line with the local authorities strategic policies and, as made clear in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), should not be used as a means of obstructing or preventing development.

Yet in practice the role of Neighbourhood Plans has been mixed, often due to the lack of an up-todate Local Plan, and afforded them with the power to establish housing targets and allocate sites for development. As such they have become a powerful policy tool and are likely to continue to be so, benefiting from a more streamlined route to becoming ‘made’ than Local Plans.

This document seeks to examine the disparity between theory and practice by assessing the impact of Neighbourhood Plans on strategic planning and decision-making. Building on this analysis the report provides a set of recommendations which would improve the system whilst retaining its core principles.

Download Neighbourhood Plans In Theory, in Practice, in The Future