Neighbourhood planning and the Localism Act
The Localism Act introduced exciting new powers for communities in the form of Neighbourhood Planning. Communities have always been consulted in the planning process whether it be during the creation of planning policies or the assessment of planning applications (that are assessed against these policies). However, many groups have felt that this engagement is not meaningful giving them only a minor role in shaping where they live and work.
The Government responded to this by allowing communities to prepare their own planning policies and site allocations in the shape of neighbourhood plans. Through this tool they can actually create policies themselves which have real power as planning applications and appeals will be assessed against them. Furthermore, through the introduction of neighbourhood development orders, communities can actually grant planning permission for the types of development they want to see in their area. This could be on a single site for something such as affordable housing or it could be a blanket planning permission across a wider area allowing changes of use to go ahead in order to bring vacant units back into occupation.
Although a much simpler process than producing a council planning document such as a Local Plan there are still processes that must be followed, evidence gathered to inform polices and consultation undertaken. As such this forum is designed to allow those actively engaged in the neighbourhood planning process to share experiences, thoughts and ideas.