Guidance Print Neighbourhood Planning

Who leads neighbourhood planning in an area?

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Who leads neighbourhood planning in an area?

Where a community wants to take up the opportunities offered by neighbourhood planning, the legislation enables three types of organisation, known as qualifying bodies, to lead it:

  • a parish or town council
  • a neighbourhood forum
  • a community organisation

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What is the role of a parish or town council in neighbourhood planning?

In a designated neighbourhood area which contains all or part of the administrative area of a town or parish council, the town or parish council is responsible for neighbourhood planning.

Where a parish or town council chooses to produce a neighbourhood plan or Order it should work with other members of the community who are interested in, or affected by, the neighbourhood planning proposals to allow them to play an active role in preparing a neighbourhood plan or Order.

The relationship between any group and the formal functions of the town or parish council should be transparent to the wider public. For example it should be clear whether a steering group or other body is a formal sub-committee of the parish or town council. The terms of reference for a steering group or other body should be published and the minutes of meetings made available to the public.

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What is a designated neighbourhood forum?

A designated neighbourhood forum is an organisation or group empowered to lead the neighbourhood planning process in a neighbourhood area where there is no town or parish council.

A group or organisation must apply to the local planning authority to be designated as a neighbourhood forum (a forum application). Those making a forum application must show how they have sought to comply with the conditions for neighbourhood forum designation. These are set out in section 61F(5) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as applied to Neighbourhood plans by section 38A of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

To be designated a neighbourhood forum must have a membership that includes a minimum of 21 individuals who either:

  • live in the neighbourhood area
  • work there; and/or
  • are elected members for a local authority that includes all or part of the neighbourhood area

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What if a prospective neighbourhood forum does not have a member from each category, can it still be designated?

A prospective neighbourhood forum is not required to have a member from each membership category in order to be designated. A neighbourhood forum must have an open membership policy, but it cannot force people to be a part of something they may not wish to be a part of. The local planning authority must consider whether the prospective neighbourhood forum has secured or taken reasonable steps to attempt to secure membership from each category and from different places and sections of the community in that area (see section 61F(7)(a)(i) and (ii) of the of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as applied to Neighbourhood plans by section 38A of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004).

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Can businesses be part of a neighbourhood forum?

Membership of a designated neighbourhood forum must be open to those working in a neighbourhood area as they will have an interest in the future of an area and the direction that its growth should take.

Individuals in businesses can take the lead in neighbourhood planning. They may wish to consider doing so particularly in areas that are wholly or predominantly business in nature. They should work closely with residents and others. They can ask their local planning authority to consider designating a neighbourhood area as a business area (see section 61H of the of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990).

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Can any community organisation develop a Community Right to Build Order in an area?

Any community organisation can develop a Community Right to Build Order in an area provided they meet the conditions set out in paragraph 3 of Schedule 4C to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) and in regulation 13 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 (as amended). This means the community organisation must be a body corporate and meet minimum membership requirements. Its constitution must allow people who live or work in the neighbourhood area to become voting members. Those who live in the area must have the majority of voting rights. The constitution must also ensure that the community organisation’s assets can only be disposed of, improved, or developed for the benefit of the community.

A community organisation does not need to be designated by the local planning authority in order for it to develop a Community Right to Build Order in a designated neighbourhood area. The local planning authority must however consider whether the organisation meets the legal requirements to be a community organisation when a Community Right to Build Order proposal is submitted to it.

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Can a community organisation that meets the conditions also produce a neighbourhood plan or a Neighbourhood Development Order?

Community organisations can only produce a Community Right to Build Order, they cannot produce a neighbourhood plan unless they are also a designated neighbourhood forum.

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