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Guidance for Neighbourhood plans

Neighbourhood planning is about delivering new development. It gives local people the opportunity to decide where new development such as housing, shops and community facilities will be built and what they will look like. The plans can be detailed or general, depending what local people want.

The Localism Act 2011 introduced the following new types of community led planning:

  • Neighbourhood Development Plans - set out policies on the development and use of land

  • Neighbourhood Development Orders - grant planning permission for a specific location or type of development

  • Community Right to Build Orders - provide for community led site development

Find out more:

Purbeck neighbourhood plan progress

You can read about progress with these plans in the  Neighbourhood Plan Progress Report.

If you would like more information about any of these neighbourhood plans, please contact the  Purbeck Planning Policy Team.

About neighbourhood plans

A neighbourhood plan is a planning policy document that is prepared by local communities. It must conform with the local plan and national policy and is subject to independent examination. If the examination finds that the plan passes the 'basic conditions' tests and complies with European legislation, the local community must then agree to it through a referendum. It the majority of those who vote say yes, the plan will be adopted by the local planning authority. Once adopted, a neighbourhood plan becomes a statutory part of the Local Plan and will be considered when determining planning applications for that neighbourhood area. The  National Planning Practice Guidance - Neighbourhood Planning provides an overview of the process.

Funding your neighbourhood plan

Locality - Neighbourhood plan grant and direct support

Locality offers two different types of support to help prepare a neighbourhood plan or a neighbourhood development order:

  • Technical Support

  • Neighbourhood Planning Grant

All groups writing a neighbourhood plan or neighbourhood development order will be eligible to apply for up to £9,000 in grant from  Locality - Neighbourhood Planning fund to help fund their plan. Locality can also provide  direct practical support for groups facing a range of complex issues. If you would like us to help you submit an application to Locality please contact  Purbeck Planning Policy Team.

Getting started on your neighbourhood plan

1. First step

In Purbeck, only parish and town councils are regarded as 'qualifying bodies', eligible to lead on neighbourhood plans. After consulting with the community, the parish or town council must apply to Purbeck District Council to designate the neighbourhood plan area. This could be the whole or part of the parish, or in some circumstances may involve more than one parish or even neighbouring local authorities. Where this is the case all of the parishes and local authorities involved must first agree to work together. The district council must consult on the designation request before making a decision.

You can choose to draw up either a neighbourhood plan, or a development order, or both. Which ever you choose they both must follow the same basic ground rules:

  • generally be in line with local and national planning policies

  • be in line with other laws

  • if the local planning authority says that an area needs to grow, then communities cannot use neighbourhood planning to block the building of new homes and businesses; they can, however, use neighbourhood planning to influence the type, design, location and mix of new development

  • neighbourhood plans must contribute to achieving sustainable development

2. Developing the plan

The parish or town council develops the plan independently but the district council will provide support and guidance in areas such as evidence gathering, data analysis and policy writing. We will also allocate you a link officer who will be you key contact throughout.

In the first instance you should arrange to meet with the planning policy team so we can help you to develop your project plan and timetable. At this meeting we will let you know which elements of the plan we can help you with. By working together we can ensure that your plan conforms to local and national policy and will pass the basic conditions tests (set in legislation) at examination.

3. Working with your community

You will need to engage widely with your local community to identify the key issues and options for developing your policies. It makes sense to keep the community informed and on board to ensure they are happy with your proposals and ultimately will agree with your plan at the referendum.

4. Independent public examination

When the plan is complete it should be submitted to Purbeck District Council. We will organise and pay for the independent examination. We will publicise the plan and invite comments. The examiner, who is appointed with the agreement of the town/parish council, will consider whether the plan:

  • meets the specified basic conditions

  • has been properly prepared with regard to  Neighbourhood Planning Regulations

  • has regard to national policies, and is in general conformity with the Purbeck Local Plan

  • has regard to preserving or enhancing any conservation areas, listed buildings and other features of special architectural or historic interest (in those cases where planning permission is effectively being granted)

  • will contribute to the achievement of sustainable development

  • does not breach, and is otherwise compatible with, EU obligations, such as the Conservation Regulations and Human Rights

A hearing will only take place if the examiner thinks it is necessary to ensure adequate examination of the issues, or to ensure that people have had a fair chance to put forward their case.

The examiner will then issue a report saying whether the plan should be submitted to a referendum, and whether any modifications need to be made to it beforehand. The examiner will also define the geographical area that the referendum should cover.

5. The referendum

The referendum, which is organised and paid for by the Purbeck District Council, is similar to an election, with polling stations, ballot papers, postal votes, poll cards, and counting of votes. If the majority of those who vote say yes, the plan is considered for adoption by Purbeck District Council.

6. Adoption

Once adopted your neighbourhood plan becomes part of the Purbeck Local Plan and will be a material consideration when determining planning applications for that neighbourhood area.

Detailed key stages for producing your neighbourhood plan

The  National Planning Practice Guide - Key stages in Neighbourhood Planning provides more detail on the process.

Neighbourhood Development Orders

Neighbourhood Development Orders (NDOs) grant planning permission for development in a specific area or of a particular type, such as homes or offices. They remove the need for developers to apply separately for planning permission to the council for those types of development set out in the order.

NDOs can stand alone or can be part of a neighbourhood plan. The process for producing a NDO is the same as for a neighbourhood plan.

Community Right to Build Orders

Community Right To Build Orders (CRtBs) also give communities the power to deliver developments without the need to apply for planning permission. Generally any development brought forward by a CRtB will be small scale in nature. Development that needs an Environmental Impact Assessment or would be located in or near to a European site of nature conservation cannot be covered by a CRtB. To discuss a potential CRtB please contact the  Purbeck Planning Policy Team.

Other advice and guidance on neighbourhood planning:

Neighbourhood Plan Area Designations

The neighbourhood plan area must to be agreed by Purbeck District Council before the plan is started. The area should be identified early in the process to avoid the risk of planning for an area that may not be approved.

Establishing a neighbourhood plan area

Parish boundaries are considered to be logical boundaries for a neighbourhood plan area but there may be circumstances where a different area may make more sense, for example, joining with a neighbouring parish where common or cross-boundary issues need to be addressed. Please contact us to discuss the area, as we may be able to highlight potential issues to consider.

How to designate a neighbourhood plan area

The town or parish council, or (where there is no local council) the approved neighbourhood forum, must apply in writing to Purbeck District Council to designate the neighbourhood plan area.

You can either complete the application form to request to designate a neighbourhood plan area or write a letter and send by post or email to Purbeck District Council. The request must include:

  • the name of the neighbourhood plan area. Please explain why this area is considered appropriate to be designated as a neighbourhood area

  • a map which identifies the area to be designated*

  • the name of the applying body with a statement explaining why this is a relevant body to make the application for the purposes of section 61G of the 1990 Act

*Completing the  ordnance survey public sector mapping agreement application allows Purbeck District Council to provide parish and town councils with maps for use in neighbourhood planning.

If you need help with your designation request please contact  Purbeck Planning Policy Team.

Once we receive your application we will publicise it for a minimum of 4 weeks and invite representations in line with 2015 amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations. We will write to relevant service providers and interest groups, asking for their views, before making a decision. We will publicise the decision on this website.


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