What are Neighbourhood Plans? Neighbourhood Plans are community-led development plan documents. These plans, upon adoption, form part of the development plan: the starting point for decision-making in the determination of planning applications.
Like the local plans prepared by Taunton Deane a neighbourhood plan will be land-use based and may allocate land for development, designate protected or valued areas and include detailed policies to guide development within the area.
There are currently three adopted Neighbourhood Plans within the Borough.
Each of the emerging Neighbourhood Plans currently being prepared have separate webpages where you can find the latest and most relevant information:
The Localism Act and Neighbourhood Planning Regulations specify that Neighbourhood Plans can only be prepared by a “Qualifying Body.” Parish and Town Councils are qualifying bodies, in non-parished areas or where a parish or town council gives consent a “Neighbourhood forum” can be designated to prepare the plan. Neighbourhood forums must include residents, businesses and local councillors. They must have at least 21 members and have a written constitution.
The Qualifying Body sets the geographic area they would like the plan to cover in an application to the Council. The area covered could be quite small (a handful of streets) or quite large: covering a whole parish or wider. There can only be one designation for each neighbourhood plan area.
The Council will consult on the area proposed to be covered by the plan for a minimum of six weeks. After this point, if the application complies with the legislation and covers an appropriate area it will be approved.
The cost of preparing the plan will vary depending on the scope and complexity of the document and the extent of the geographic area to be covered. The Government estimate that the financial costs associated with preparing a Neighbourhood Plan generally range between £17,000 and £63,000. These costs exclude the examination of the plan by a qualified person and the public referendum required by the Localism Act and Neighbourhood Planning Regulations which are met by Taunton Deane as the Local Planning Authority.
Again, this will depend on the scope and complexity of the plan. Some plans may be progress from inception to adoption in two years while others may take somewhat longer.
Preparing a Neighbourhood Plan requires a considerable amount of time and effort. The plan will need to be supported by an appropriate evidence base to support its policies and it will be subject to extensive community and wider engagement. There may also be technical evidence required to support the Plan which may include assessments of development viability and the preparation of environmental reports.
A Neighbourhood Plan will not be appropriate for all communities. If the issues affecting an area are not predominantly land use based it is unlikely a Neighbourhood Plan is an appropriate response and a Community Plan or similar may be more suitable.
Where can we get further information?
There are several links to helpful guides prepared to inform communities considering preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan (and other community-led Plans) included on this page. For further information on neighbourhood planning you may also wish to contact our planning policy team.