Neighbourhood Development Plans
A Neighbourhood Plan sets out where development will go and what development could look like in a particular area. The production of a Plan will be led by Parish or Town Councils but it needs the involvement of the local community. However, there is no requirement for Parish or Town Councils and their local communities to make a Neighbourhood Plans. A number of alternative options are available and the District Council can provide help and advice on these too.
A Neighbourhood Plan will be used by Arun District Council to help make decisions on planning applications received for the area covered. It will form part of the Planning Framework for the District and sit alongside the Local Plan which Arun is producing that sets out policies and proposals to do with strategic issues. There are a number of legal requirements before a plan it can be used to make planning decisions by the District Council. Once it has met all these requirements and been tested it can be adopted by the District Council and used in planning decisions.
If you want to get involved in shaping how your area is developed in the future then contact your Parish or Town Council to see what they are doing and how you might be able to help.
We have produced a toolkit on local planning which sets out key things to consider in making the decision to take a particular option and which will identify the key aspects involved in each option. Please find a link to the toolkit and additional supporting guides below:
Further information about Neighbourhood Plans
Neighbourhood plans have been introduced by central Government as a way in which local people can get engaged in planning for their local area. They are plans which will be developed by the local community, and in Parished areas such as Arun District, will be led by the relevant Parish or Town Council. Policies included in Neighbourhood Plans will need to be related to the use of land in the area, or to spatial matters (ie aspects that affect how a place works). It is anticipated that a Plan could be produced in about a year and there are a number of specific stages that it has to go through. Once it has been examined by an Independent Inspector and been voted on by the local community the District Council will be able to adopt a Neighbourhood Plan. Once adopted it will form part of the District's local planning policy framework and used to help make planning decisions. Plan production would normally fall to Parish or Town Councils with significant input from local community members eg residents and community groups. Once a Plan is produced and has met all the necessary requirements and stages Arun will be responsible for incorporating it into its local planning framework and using it to make planning decisions where appropriate. Arun District Council has employed a Neighbourhood Plan Officer whose role is to provide help, support and guidance to all Parish and Town Councils in making a Neighbourhood Plan or a Community Led Plan eg Parish Plan. The Officer is available to attend meetings or have informal discussions on various issues relating to Neighbourhood or Community Led Plan production. Part of this advice will come from being able to provide information to Parish and Town Councils that they could use within their plans eg maps.
Neighbourhood Plans can guide development to be more appropriate to local context and help decide where it goes, but the government has made it clear that it is not a tool for NIMBY-ism. They should be pro-growth and therefore allocate appropriate non strategic sites for development as long as they are in conformity with the emerging Local Plan for Arun.
A lot of emerging advice is based on experience gathered from production of Community Led Plans such as Parish Plans. There are certain stages that a Plan needs to go through and include the 'getting started' stage where the community is informed of its forthcoming production and offered opportunities to get involved eg by carrying out village surveys through to the drafting of allocations and policies. Throughout all the stages the community needs to have active involvement and input and be part of the writing of the plan. A good way to encourage involvement is to set up working parties comprised of Parish Council members and local residents / workers. A key part of plan production is the production of a Sustainability Appraisal which is a legal requirement. An SA tells the story of Plan production, it identifies the information used to produce the plan and says who was involved and why decisions where made. There are a number of stages that SA has to go through including agreeing on a methodology with statutory bodies which takes up to 5 weeks and consulting the community on the draft SA report. SA production and Plan production roughly correspond and it is essential to ensure that SA is factored into plan production from the start as it is crucial to informing how the plan develops and takes shape.
It is expected that a Neighbourhood Plan could be produced in around 12 - 18 months. This will vary according to levels of interest in plan production and resources available. The Council will still produce a strategic local plan which will identify strategic allocations and set out strategic or district-wide policies. Neighbourhood Plans will be used in conjunction with the emerging local plan to make planning decisions. Neighbourhood Plans complement the Local Plan but do not replace it. The weight (importance) that is attached to a particular policy can only be decided when considering a specific proposal. At a general level Neighbourhood Plans and the emerging Local Plan should complement each other.
Planning applications will need to have regard to all relevant policy. To get adopted, current guidance suggests that the plan will be subject to an examination, approved by the Council and be subject to a local referendum. Further details on this will be made available at the time. As it currently stands referendums and examinations will be arranged and paid for by the District Council for as long as the government provides funding for this. The District Council is not legally obliged to provide any financial assistance to Parish or Town Councils producing a Neighbourhood or Community Led Plan, this includes all costs incurred eg printing. No financial assistance will be provided by Arun District Council to any Parish or Town Council producing a Neighbourhood Plan or a Community Led Plan. Central Government (Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)) have made available a significant fund to help communities with Neighbourhood Plan production through the Front Runner Scheme. Parish and Town Councils who have decided to produce a Neighbourhood Plan can make a bid for a grant of £20,000 to go towards plan production. However, bid proposals can only be submitted to DCLG through the Local Planning Authority (Arun District Council). ADC have encouraged all Parish and Town Councils to make a bid and are willing to submit completed bids to DCLG on their behalf. Community Led Plans such as Parish Plans, Village Design Statements and Market Town Health Checks can also be developed by a community. These have less influence within Arun's planning framework but are still a valuable way in which the community can raise issues with relevant partners such as the District Council and the County Council. It is generally accepted that a Community Led Plan would have some sort of action plan that sets out what needs to be done and by whom. The process of making a community led plan needs to come from the community but can be coordinated by a Parish or Town Council.
Neighbourhood Plans are focused on spatial planning issues only and form part of the statutory planning framework. Community led plans can cover a far wider range of issues including education and anti social behaviour. Community Led Plans do not form a statutory part of the local planning framework because they are far wider than just planning. However, if the planning aspects can be drawn out these may be able to be incorporated into Arun's planning framework. Because there is far less weight attached to a community led plan there are fewer statutory requirements.
You can get involved in this process by firstly contacting your Parish or Town Council to see how they are getting on in the process and whether they have made a decision on which option is the most appropriate for them. Express your interest in getting involved and think about how you could do this, for example: what skills and time can you offer? It can be anything from offering to distribute leaflets to helping write the plan.
Advice and Support
Arun has employed a Neighbourhood Plan Officer who is the main contact at Arun District Council for Neighbourhood Plans and also Community Led Plans. The officer will provide ongoing advice and support on both types of plan for the next year and can attend Parish or Town Council meetings or meetings of local community groups. Contact Donna Moles on email@example.com or 01903 737697 for more on Neighbourhood Plans or Community Led Plans and how Arun can help.
Copies of presentations and workshops are available here:
Other organisations within the District are also helping our Parish and Town Councils get local people involved in planning for their locality such as Action in Rural Sussex which is our local Rural Community Council. National organisations such as Locality and others are working to help Neighbourhood Plan production.
We are able to provide further workshops for groups doing neighbourhood plans so please contact us if there are topics which you require further training on. We can also provide advice and support to those Parish or Town Councils outside of the South Downs National Park. For those Parishes within the National Park the Planning Department at the National Park should be contacted via their call centre on 0300 303 1053 to find out how they can help.