1. What is a neighbourhood plan?

A neighbourhood plan is a framework and policies for guiding the future development, regeneration and conservation of an area, and is developed by a neighbourhood forum (see 2). It forms part of the statutory development plan for the area. It may contain a vision, aims, planning policies, proposals for improving the area or providing new facilities, or allocation of key sites for specific kinds of development. It may deal with a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues (such as housing, employment, heritage and transport) or it may only focus on one or two issues. They have to be subjected to an independent examination and referendum in order to bring them into force.

See more at: http://mycommunityrights.org.uk/faqs/#sthash.SDB105RF.dpuf

2. What is a neighbourhood forum?

A neighbourhood forum (in our case, the East Shoreditch Neighbourhood Planning Forum) leads the plan-making process. The legislation dictates that the forum must have an open membership and comprise at least 21 people that live or work, or are elected councillors in the area (see  no 3). They should be representative and drawn from both different places in the area and different sections of the community. The forum has to have a written constitution and a purpose that includes promoting or improving the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the area. Finally, it has to be submitted for designation (i.e. approval) by the local planning authority.

3. What is a neighbourhood area?

The first formal step in neighbourhood planning is the designation of a neighbourhood area, and must be approved by the forum’s members. The area may be large or small and could contain, for instance, local shops, housing estates, parks, institutions or a combination of these. The proposed area has to be submitted to the local planning authority that must ensure that it is coherent, consistent and appropriate in planning terms before approving it.

4. What is an evidence base?

“Evidence base” describes data and information about the proposed area, and must be provided with the application to form a plan. It can include social and economic data about the local population and economy, assessments of housing need, flood risk data, records on protected buildings and sites and other relevant information.
See more at: http://mycommunityrights.org.uk/faqs/#sthash.SDB105RF.dpuf

5. Who is consulted about a plan?

There is a legal requirement for consultation and publicity at different stages of the neighbourhood plan-making process. But it’s good practice to engage local people from the beginning of the process – those live and work in the area, shoppers, businesses, landowners, developers and others involved with or have an interest in the area.
See more at: http://mycommunityrights.org.uk/faqs/page/2/#sthash.ZF5lj66A.dpuf

6. How much does it cost to produce a neighbourhood plan?

A plan will cost as much or as little as those of us involved want it to – it depends on our ambitions for its scope, its evidence base, the nature of public engagement and the standard and style of production. Many are being produced with budgets of around £10,000-£20,000. The cost of the referendum and the independent examiner are met by the local planning authority.
See more at: http://mycommunityrights.org.uk/faqs/page/2/#sthash.ZF5lj66A.dpuf

7. Who organises and pays for the referendum?

The independent examination of the proposed neighbourhood plan and referendum is organised by the local authority. The neighbourhood forum must agree the appointment of an independent examiner. The costs of the referendum and the independent examiner are met by the local planning authority.

8. What happens after the referendum?

Neighbourhood plans are brought into force by the local planning authority, if the majority voting in a referendum vote in favour (there are some very limited circumstances where this is not the case). Once a neighbourhood plan is brought into force, it forms part of the statutory development plan for the neighbourhood area in question. Consequently, decisions on whether to grant planning permission will need to be made in accordance with the neighbourhood plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

9. Who will be ensuring that the neighbourhood plans are viable and deliverable?

Neighbourhood plans need to be aspirational but they also need to be realistic and deliverable. Ultimately this is down to the neighbourhood forum but it’s in no one’s interest if a plan is prepared that is not deliverable.

10. Does the neighbourhood plan have to conform to the Local Plan?

Neighbourhood plans are a powerful tool for shaping the development and growth of a local area. They are not just re-stating the council’s plan but setting out the community’s views on the development and use of land in their neighbourhood. This includes setting policies on where development should go, how development is designed or, using a neighbourhood development order, to give permission for certain types of development without the need for a subsequent planning application. The Localism Act includes a “basic condition” that neighbourhood plans have to be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Plan.

Neighbourhoods will come to their own view on policies which we will decide at the neighbourhood level (i.e. non-strategic), while contributing to meeting the needs of the wider area. Unlike many of the parish, village or town plans produced in the past, a neighbourhood plan becomes a formal part of the planning system. It forms part of the Local Development Plan and sits alongside the Local Plan prepared by the local authority. Planning applications will need to be decided against both the Local Plan and any appropriate neighbourhood plans, and any other material considerations.

11. How will the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ affect a neighbourhood plan?

The presumption in favour of sustainable development is principally a means of ensuring that local plans are put together in a way which reflects an evidence-based assessment of the social, economic and environmental needs of an area.

The new planning reforms aim to strengthen the role of plans (including neighbourhood plans) in decision-making. The presumption makes clear that planning applications which are in line with local and neighbourhood plans should normally be approved.

You might have more questions that are not covered here. If so, post them below and we’ll see if we can add them. The Plan as a whole is an ongoing process, and this section will equally respond to need.

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  • east shoreditch forum

    Get involved and help plan the future of the East Shoreditch Neighbourhood
  • what do you say?


    Get involved! This a golden opportunity to shape the future of our neighbourhood.

    John, local council member

    More vacant plots turned over to urban gardening!

    Armand, resident

    I’d like more green spaces, more places to relax

    Will, resident

    I’d like to see more community growing spaces

    Helen, works in the area
  • your neighbourhood