Following the approval of 3 plans in Herefordshire earlier this month, the total number of neighbourhood plans currently in place has now risen to 200. This is on top of almost 1,900 communities across England that are in the process of implementing their own plans.
Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDPs) enable local people to have their say on the development of their area, including where houses, schools and businesses should be built, how they should look and what infrastructure needs to be in place in order to support the development.
Former Housing and Planning Minister, Brandon Lewis said:
“I’m delighted that 200 communities have now voted in neighbourhood planning to help shape the future of their areas…By giving communities new powers we have removed the outdated system which often saw local areas pitted against developers.”
The development of each plan passes through several stages prior to implementation and communities are encouraged to engage throughout each stage, before voting on the plan in a referendum.
Nearly 340,000 votes have been cast since 2013, to approve the 200 plans that have reached the referendum stage, with an average of 89% of voters being in favour of the proposed plans for their area, albeit on generally small turnouts.
As support for neighbourhood plans has grown among communities, plans themselves are becoming much more ambitious. For example, many include planning for housing beyond and in advance of the authority’s local plan.
These form part of a much wider scheme by the government to shift planning powers into the hands of local people and deliver 1 million more homes in order to better support those who want to achieve their dream of owning their own home.
Significant steps have been taken to encourage local people to get involved with neighbourhood planning, including the recent Housing and Planning Act and the Neighbourhood Planning Support Programme.
The Act helps streamline and simplify the process of implementation of a neighbourhood plan whilst the Support Programme provides funds for preparation of plans – called Neighbourhood Planning Grants – and technical help and advice.
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