What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
• The Localism Act (2011) gave communities the right to influence the future development of their areas, especially but not exclusively in relation to planning decisions (location and type of housing, business premises and local amenities).
• A Neighbourhood Development Plan (or “Neighbourhood Plan”) is a framework for guiding the future development, regeneration and conservation of an area. It typically deals with social, economic and environmental issues, such as planning, employment, heritage and transport.
• All Neighbourhood Plans must be aligned to the National Planning Policy Framework and the Bath & North East Somerset Core Strategy which sets out planning policies for developing and managing the area until 2029.
• A Neighbourhood Plan looks forward 20 years and can include a community “wish list” of non-planning issues, e.g. renewable energy, mains gas, traffic on the A37 and through the villages, improved amenities, health and safety, conservation.
Who organises it?
Publow with Pensford Parish Council have to lead and approve the process and are helped by a Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group, consisting of Parish councillors and residents.
How is the Plan prepared?
There are several stages which are laid down in the Localism Act in developing a Neighbourhood Plan:
1. Designate the Area
2. Consult with the community to determine the key areas for inclusion in the Plan.
3. Produce and publish a draft Neighbourhood Plan for further consultation.
4. Submit the Plan to the Local Authority to check that it is in line with existing national and local legislation and policies.
5. Submit the Plan to an independent examiner who again ensures that it is within the scope of the Act.
6. Finally, hold a local referendum in which all registered electors in the designated area can vote whether to adopt the Plan or not. The Plan is adopted by a simple majority of those who vote (as at a General Election).
7. Once adopted, the Plan is a legally binding document.
Who pays for it?
Ultimately the process is financed by central government using funding already set aside from our taxes! The Parish Council can apply for grants to cover costs that they incur (e.g. printing, distribution of the questionnaire, administration costs, hire of Hall/meeting rooms etc). BANES are responsible for paying the costs of the examination and the referendum – costs which they recoup from central government.
How long has it taken to prepare our Plan?
• The process started in the autumn of 2014 and has taken 2 years to prepare the final Plan.
• The most important stage was community consultation. This started in late May 2015 with open, “drop-in” style meetings.
• These meetings were followed by a Questionnaire to all households in the Area. This Questionnaire was based on the concerns expressed at the “drop in” meetings. The results of the questionnaire were analysed and published
• Further “drop in” meetings were held in March 2016 to provide more evidence of community concerns.
• The next stage was to draw up the draft Plan based on the views expressed during the consultation period. This draft Plan was publicised in June 2016 and comments invited. The final Plan was then developed which took into account all the comments received.
• The Submission Plan (as this final document is called) went to BANES for a period of statutory consultation on 20 October 2016. It will then be examined by an independent examiner to ensure it conforms to national and local legislation and guidelines.
• If it is approved, the local referendum takes place. This is planned for early in 2017.