The Neighbourhood planning bill

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced a range of measures to speed up and simplify the neighbourhood planning process and give more power to neighbourhood forums. Building on those reforms, the 2016 Queen’s Speech set out how new legislation would be introduced to further strengthen neighbourhood planning. It does this by ensuring that planning decision-makers take account of well-advanced neighbourhood plans and by giving neighbourhood plans full force as soon as they have passed referendum.

The Bill, which comes into force next month, also makes the duty on local planning authorities to support neighbourhood planning groups more transparent and improves community involvement in the early stages of plan-making by a local planning authority.

The draft legislation will make NPlans part of the development plan for an area as soon as they have been approved by local people and businesses in a referendum, without having to be brought into legal force officially by the relevant local planning authority (LPA). LPAs will have to meet a 13 week deadline for deciding whether to designate a neighbourhood forum. This will be extended to 20 weeks where more than one LPA is involved.

Many LAs already include some information on NPlanning on their websites. The DCLG believes it makes sense to use the Statement of Community Involvement to also set out, in one place, an LA’s policies for giving advice or assistance to support NPlanning groups.

The Bill sets out a new requirement for local planning authorities to publish their policies for giving advice or assistance to groups preparing or updating their NPlans in their Statement of Community Involvement. The Bill also requires local planning authorities to set out in their Statement of Community Involvement, their policies for involving interested parties in the preliminary stages of plan-making.

The DCLG has published a follow up consultation, which proposes setting in regulation an initial deadline of 12 months following Royal Assent of the Bill for authorities to comply with these new requirements.

More information can be found here: