No, preparing a neighbourhood plan is voluntary.
Areas of neighbourhood planning
Neighbourhood planning can cover any one of these three distinct areas, neighbourhood development plan, neighbourhood development order and community right to build order.
Neighbourhood development plan
Neighbourhood development plans are commonly known as neighbourhood plans. Communities can use a neighbourhood plan to create a vision for their area, establishing general planning policies for the development and use of land. This could be where new homes should be built and what types of materials should be used, or where public open space should be located and how it will be maintained. The plan must be in conformity with national planning policy and the strategic policies of the adopted development plan, and cannot reduce the amount or change the type of development planned for in the development plan.
You can find the current status of specific neighbourhood plans on our neighbourhood planning page.
Neighbourhood development order
Communities will have the power to grant planning permission for certain types of development in their area, such as residential extensions, without the need to seek formal planning permission from us. As with a neighbourhood plan, a neighbourhood development order must meet certain conditions, such as conforming to national policies and strategic local policies.
Community right to build order
This is a specific type of neighbourhood development order which enables a community, such as a community interest company or community land trust to bring forward specific developments within their area. Any benefits which these schemes bring will remain within the community to be used for maintaining or enhancing community facilities.
Who prepares neighbourhood plans
Only the parish or town council can lead in preparing a neighbourhood plan. In areas where there is no parish or town council a neighbourhood forum must be designated before a neighbourhood plan can be prepared.
A neighbourhood forum must be made up of a minimum of 21 people who live, work or do business in the neighbourhood area.
A neighbourhood area is an area that will be covered by the neighbourhood plan. It is recommended that the neighbourhood area is the same as the parish or town council area, but any area can be designated as a neighbourhood area. They can cover areas that are smaller than the parish or town council area, they can even include more than one parish or cross local authority boundaries. However, there will need to be an agreement between all the parish and/or town councils to be covered by the neighbourhood area. You will also need to explain why the area is suitable for a neighbourhood plan. If the area is not the same as a single parish or town council area then a consultation process will be needed before the area can be designated.
In areas where there is no parish or town council and no neighbourhood forum then you must apply for both area and forum designation at the same time.
In all cases, it is important to discuss your proposals with us, prior to applying for area designation. Contact us to discuss your proposals.
Neighbourhood planning frequently asked questions
Are communities required to have a neighbourhood plan?
What is the process for preparing a neighbourhood plan?
The neighbourhood plan needs to go through a number of stages before it can be finalised. In summary, these stages are:
- community engagement and drafting of the plan
- consultation on the draft plan
- submission of the plan to us
- consultation on the submitted plan
- appointment of an examiner
- the examination
- the examiner reports
- approval for referendum
- the referendum
- adoption of the plan by us
Unlike other forms of community planning, such as community or parish plans, a neighbourhood plan is a statutory planning document which has to go through formal stages before it becomes part of the planning policy for the area. It is therefore important to work with the planning department during all stages of the process, in particular the project planning and drafting stages.
Neighbourhood plans will need to be subject to a public referendum. This means that the plan will need to be supported by the majority of the community (more than 50% of those who vote) before it can be adopted.
How long will it take to prepare a neighbourhood plan?
Preparing a neighbourhood plan can take a lot of work. Evidence suggests that a plan can take more than two years to prepare, from the point at which the neighbourhood area is designated to the final adoption of the plan. How quickly you can prepare your plan will depend on many things, but particularly who you have that can help with different tasks and how organised you are. You should not feel that you have to prepare a plan in a certain amount of time.
What help is available from North Yorkshire Council?
Once the neighbourhood area is approved, the planning department is legally required to support the production of a neighbourhood plan. This duty to support will include things like:
- making available data and information for the evidence base, such as housing needs data, environmental designations and flood risk assessments
- advice about what the strategic policies are that the neighbourhood plan needs to conform with
- advice on the legal requirements for the neighbourhood plan
- providing advice and guidance on setting up questionnaires and other engagement methods
- advice on the collation and summary of questionnaire responses
- helping to coordinate and plan engagement activities, to avoid consultation overload and maximise their effectiveness
- checking the plan prior to consultation on the draft and before submission
- providing advice on who needs to be consulted, especially in order to help meet the basic conditions
- providing technical support, such as assistance in laying out the plan and with maps or graphical content
- identifying any need for and undertaking environmental assessment or Habitat Regulations Assessment
However, it is worth noting that preparing the plan is the responsibility of the neighbourhood planning group, whether that is the parish or town council, or a specifically designated forum and the planning department cannot write the neighbourhood plan on behalf of groups.
Is there any financial assistance available for developing neighbourhood plans?
All groups writing a Neighbourhood Plan will be eligible to apply for a grant through a national initiative. Current grants are up to £9,000. Locality, a network supporting local community organisations, has set up a dedicated website for neighbourhood planning support where you can find out how to apply.
It must be a representative of the Town or Parish Council that applies for support. In addition, groups in certain priority areas (including those allocating sites for housing, unparished areas, business areas, deprived areas, clusters of parishes and areas of high growth) may be eligible for a further grant funding and technical support packages.
Are there any legal requirements for neighbourhood plans?
The main requirement for neighbourhood plans is that they must meet a set of basic conditions. The basic conditions include the neighbourhood plan:
- has regard to national policies and advice, specifically the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the National Planning Practice Guidance
- contributes to the achievement of sustainable development defined in the NPPF
- is in general conformity with the strategic policies contained in the development plan for the area (these are currently the policies in the core strategy and are identified in the emerging local plan)
- does not breach, and is otherwise compatible with, EU obligations that have been transposed into UK law
What weight will be given to neighbourhood plans in planning decisions?
When adopted, a neighbourhood plan will be part of the statutory planning documents, known as the development plan. They will form part of the local plan and will be used when we determine planning applications.
What other information is available?
Locality, a network supporting local community organisations, has set up a dedicated website for neighbourhood planning support including a series of factsheets that are available to download and a step-by-step roadmap.
Further information and guidance are also available: