Supporting Communities in Neighbourhood Planning Programme

This Programme runs through 2013-15 and is funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government and provides support for communities wishing to produce their own neighbourhood plans.  The help is availabe in the form of grant for specific requirements, such as publicity materials or special pieces of work, or as direct professional help with the key stages of neighbourhood planning provided by primarily Planning Aid England.  The Programme is delivered by a partnership led by Locality, along with Planning Aid England, URS, the Community Development Foundation, the Eden Project, and Urban Vision.

Urban Vision's role has been threefold.  Firstly, we have been the assessors of applications for direct support made by qualifying bodies (town and parish councils and neighbourhood forums), recommending packages of professional support delivered by Planning Aid England to enable qualifying bodies to reach key milestones in the production of their neighoburhood plans.  We have assessed over 200 applications for direct support, which is being delivered by Planning Aid England.

Secondly, we have delivered elements of work specified by others to help qualifying bodies move their neighbourhood plans forward.  We have worked with parish and town councils and neighbourhood forums from Alnwick in Northumberland and Upper Eden in Cumbria to Bramley in Hampshire and Woodcote in South Oxfordshire.  A full list of our clients and the work we have done for them can be found via the Work and Clients tab in the lower menu bar.

Thirdly, we have been planning advisor to Locality in support of the Programme.  This has involved providing advice on a very broad range of often complex issues that have arisen in this brand new field of planning. 

Getting help from the Supporting Communities in Neighbourhood Planning Programme

Further details of the Programme, including information on how to apply for a grant or for direct support, are available on Locality's Community Rights website here, or on the Department of Communities and Local Government website here.

Urban Vision's advisory role in the SCNP Programme

Our advisory work provides professional advice to Locality, DCLG, other programme partners, independent examiners, and various local authorities, parish councils and neighbourhood forums to clarify a range of issues that have arisen in the practice of neighbourhood planning.  The issues that have arisen include

  • Basic Conditions: Advice on requirements for meeting the basic conditions.
  • Basic Conditions Statements: Advice and support for preparing statements to support the submission of neighbourhood plans.
  • Sustainable Development: Advice on ways in which neighbourhood plans can achieve sustainable development at strategic and detailed levels.
  • EU Directives: advice on LPA screening, scope of SEA in neighbourhood plans, approaches to SEA, equalities impact assessments, etc.
  • Strategic Local Policy: Advice on differentiation between strategic and non-strategic local policy.
  • National Policy: Advice on different aspects of national policy, including the NPPF, NPPG and other aspects, including ministerial statements.
  • Neighbourhood Area Modification: Discussion of circumstances where LPAs can modify the boundary of the submitted neighbourhood area, against the context of legal uncertainty created by the Daws Hill judgement and subsequent legal challenge.
  • Local Authority Procedures and Decisions: Liaison between qualifying bodies and local planning authorities to explain the scope and nature of decision making at different stages of the neighbourhood planning process. In particular this has focused on the difference between decisions involving discretionary judgement of planning merit and those that involve the application of legal tests.
  • Referendum materials: Clarification on the nature of referendum materials and restrictions on content and use of public money.
  • Pre-empting Local Plan Core Strategy Adoption: Clarification of requirements for neighbourhood plans to meet the basic conditions, where there is no up-to-date local plan. This includes guidance on how emerging core strategies may be considered within the context of having regard to national policy.
  • Community engagement and consultation: Advice on statutory consultation and non-statutory community engagement at different stages of plan preparation, including highlighting relevant case law on consultation.
  • Consideration of Consultation Responses: Advice on consideration of responses to the statutory consultation phase (pre-submission) and decisions on whether or not to modify draft plan proposals prior to submission.
  • Consultation Statements: Advice on requirements for consultation statements, to support the formal submission of draft plan proposals.
  • Policy Drafting: Advice on writing robust policies that will be effective as a tool for development management.
  • Site Allocations: Advice on making site allocations for housing, employment, community facilities and other kinds of development. This includes discussion of methodologies and selection criteria.
  • Viability: Advice on testing site viability.
  • Independent Examination: Advice on the scope and procedures for independent examinations, including the powers and duties of examiners, LPAs and QBs.
  • Structure of NDPs: Advice on the structure and content of neighbourhood plans, including how to deal with non-planning matters.
  • Assessment of Housing Need: Advice on how to deal with issues around housing need where there is no recent evidence.
  • Amendment of Parish Boundaries: What happens if the parish boundary changes following designation of the neighbourhood area.
  • Unusual Neighbourhood Area Boundaries: Including cross LPA boundary areas, cross-parish boundaries and waterway focused areas.

Specific subject areas include

  • Green Belts: Ways in which neighbourhood plans can deal with Green Belt issues, given the strategic nature of Green Belt policies. Clarification that Green Belt boundaries may only be amended through the local plan process.
  • Place-Making: Advice on how to address built heritage and urban design through neighbourhood plan policies and standards.
  • Housing: Advice on levels of growth, selection of sites, housing standards and policies.
  • Town Centres: Advice on how to deal with town centres in neighbourhood plans, including retail, employment and cultural activities
  • Transport: Advice on planning and non-planning aspects of transport and how to address them.

Return to the Neighbourhood Planning overview page by clicking here.

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