Establishing a neighbourhood planning advisory committee or steering group in a parished area

Posted on 3 October 2017 (Permalink)
In a parished area, the parish or town council is the only legal qualifying body who may produce a neighbourhood plan. However, governance arrangements for neighbourhood planning will differ from parish to parish. Some town/parish councils undertake most of the plan formulation themselves whilst others choose to establish an advisory committee or steering group in order to lead neighbourhood plan activity.

For those considering establishing an advisory committee or steering group, it is important to first clarify some arrangements that cannot be delegated:

· submitting a request to the local planning authority to agree the neighbourhood planning area;

· submitting the draft neighbourhood plan, together with the basic conditions statement and consultation statement;

· liaison with the local planning authority on matters relating to the examination process;

· submitting an application for neighbourhood planning grant from Locality; and

· being a fund holder for funds related to neighbourhood planning, including Locality grant.


Establishing a committee for neighbourhood planning means opening membership to all those who live and work in the neighbourhood area. It is good practice to be as inclusive as possible. Ultimately the community are those who will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at referendum, so the more the plan reflects the views of those in the community, the more likely they will decide to vote ‘yes’ to the question of whether the plan should be brought into force.

Establishment of an advisory committee is set forth under section 102(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.  The town or parish council can appoint local people (who need not be parish councillors) to those bodies. Members of such committees or sub-committees have voting rights under section 13(3), (4)(e) or (4)(h) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.

Most groups and committees have 10 – 15 members whilst many others establish smaller working groups for particular issues such as housing or green space. A useful overview from Rye Town Council of their working groups is included at the bottom of the page.

Terms of Reference

Terms of reference should describe how the plan group or committee will function, details of its membership (including the skills and expertise of individual members) and rules concerning how to appoint or dismiss members of the committee.

Locality’s guide to How to write a terms of reference for a steering group gives more detail about what will be required as well as providing some examples.

Other useful links:

Hart District Council have produced a useful guidance note that provides advice on setting up a Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group.

Information on Rye Town Council’s website includes details of the working groups associated with neighbourhood plan steering group together with a brief summary of the focus of their work.