Top 10 reasons why developers and landowners should get involved in Neighbourhood Planning
#1 A Neighbourhood Planning Revolution is underway
Since the Neighbourhood Planning element of the Localism Act was introduced in 2012 over 1,000 areas across the country have been designated as neighbourhood areas. A growing number of plans are succeeding at referendum, 17 to date and over 100 are written and are undergoing consultation.
#2 Neighbourhood Plans have real legal force
Neighbourhood Plans when “made” become statutory documents that will affect future planning decisions in the area to which they relate. If a neighbourhood plan is proposed in an area where you own property – it may affect the development of the property in the future. It is therefore in your best interests to be part of any neighbourhood discussions and consultations to ensure your own ideas are considered.
#3 Neighbourhood Planning is pro growth
A Neighbourhood Plan cannot stop development. The intention is to bring forward sustainable development and so allow communities a chance to shape their own areas.
#4 Working with Neighbourhood Forums will allow you to shape neighbourhood plans.
In non-parished areas a Neighbourhood Forum must be in place to lead the development of a Neighbourhood Plan. Any 21 individuals who live or work in an area can create a forum which needs to be approved by the Local Planning Authority following a public consultation. It’s important that developers and landowners are involved with Forums and indeed with town and parish councils who may be taking forward a neighbourhood plan. Getting involved with a Forum, or town/parish council, will give you the opportunity to shape and influence future plans for your area. Ultimately the plans will have to be voted for by the community in a referendum. Every referendum do date has been a success.
#5 Effective engagement can save you money
Planning inquiries are expensive and time consuming and can be avoided by early engagement with communities and Local Authorities. The Neighbourhood Planning process is a perfect opportunity to have meaningful discussions with the various stakeholders in an area – from residents, to local businesses and Local Authorities.
#6 Neighbourhood Forums can identify and approve planning for specific development
In addition to developing a vision through a Neighbourhood Plan a town/parish council or Neighbourhood Forum also has the power to bring forward Neighbourhood Development Orders (NDOs), putting in place planning permission for specific sites and helping you bring development forward faster.
#7 Neighbourhood Planning will present new opportunities
Neighbourhood Planning could identify development opportunities not previously considered in plan making. Communities may have requirements not currently met which will present development opportunities.
#8 It could help enhance the area around your land / property
Areas that have Neighbourhood Plans in place are entitled to a larger percentage of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding than areas without and can also draft a priority list of infrastructure improvements to be delivered when funds become available
#9 It’s gathering pace in cities and urban areas
The “movement” to date has been largely in rural towns and communities. It is now gathering pace in urban areas and in London there are 75 neighbourhood areas in existence. Several developers are already involved in early neighbourhood plans
#10 Localism is supported by the main political parties
The Coalition is delighted with the progress of neighbourhood planning. Local people are showing massive interest with turnouts to referendums higher than those for local elections in some areas. In addition all 17 referendums have been favourable.
A report published by The Smith Institute (Jan 2014) “Labour and Localism; perspectives on a new English deal” addresses neighbourhood planning in a Chapter by the Shadow Planning Minister, Roberta Blackman-Woods MP. The report suggests “extending and streamlining neighbourhood planning and improving community engagement” to facilitate development.