Neighbourhood Plan latest

The Localism Bill

The Localism Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on Monday 13th December. The first reading is really just the formal announcement of the arrival of the Bill. The main debates, and opportunities for members of Parliament to amend the Bill, take place at second reading, committee stage, third reading; and in the House of Lords and when Lord’s amendments are reconsidered by the House of Commons. Royal Assent is unlikely before the end of 2011.

The Localism Bill is at the heart of the Big Society that the Coalition seem so set on. The 6 key principles are:

  1. Lift the burden of bureaucracy;
  2. Empower communities to do things their way;
  3. Increase local control of public finance;
  4. Diversify the supply of public services;
  5. Open up government to public scrutiny;
  6. Strengthen accountability to local people.

All very admirable – but what does this mean to planning?

The Neighbourhood Plan

Within the Bill is the concept of a Neighbourhood Plan – a radical reform to the  planning system which aims to give local people  new rights to shape the development of the  communities in which they live.

What does this really mean?

Essentially, defined neighbourhoods and Parish Councils will be able to create new ‘Neighbourhood Development Orders’ to define specific developments or types of development which will have automatic planning permission without the need for any application to the local authority.

For more complex cases they will be able to grant outline permission so that the right to develop would be established and only the details would need to be approved.

They have the potential to be a very powerful force within the planning system, and we anticipate that take up will be high –  Parish Councils have an opportunity to get genuine control of neighbourhoods.

What can we do now?

At Plainview Planning we have started preparing a framework to help in the preparation of neighbourhood plans,   and whilst Royal Assent for the Bill is some way off, we are already talking to Parish Councils about the necessary ground works for preparing a successful Neighbourhood Plan.

If you are a representative of a Parish Council, a local resident, or a developer – feel free to call to discuss the implications of Neighbourhood Plans (