Statement of Community Involvement Review - Consultation Draft

7 - Neighbourhood Plans

7.1 The Localism Act gives communities powers to make their own planning proposals and decisions. This can be done by Town or Parish Councils or Community Groups, by preparing Neighbourhood Plans or Neighbourhood Development Orders.

7.2 Neighbourhood Plans can establish planning policies for the development and use of land, for example, where new homes and offices should be built, and what they should look like.

7.3 Neighbourhood Development Orders can grant planning permission for new buildings the community would like to see built, without the developer having to apply for separate planning permission.

7.4 Neighbourhood Plans or Development Orders must:

  • Be generally in line with local and national planning policies
  • Be in line with other laws
  • Cannot be used to block the building of new homes and businesses.

7.5 The council is required to publicise neighbourhood planning documents at various stages in the process, and to carry out consultations. It will use the Council website, online consultation portal and make copies available at the Council Offices and relevant libraries (depending on the area of the document under consultation).

The Key Stages in producing a Neighbourhood Plan

Council responsibility

Town/Parish Council/Forum responsibility

   

Stage 1 - Neighbourhood Area Designation

The Town or Parish Council apply to the Council for a specific geographic area to be designated to which the Neighbourhood Plan will apply. In Thanet the Neighbourhood Area is usually the Parish or Town boundary. The Council will consult for a minimum of six weeks to ensure that people who live, work or carry on business in the area have the chance to comment. The Neighbourhood Area is then either approved or refused by the Council and the outcome publicised as required under the legislation. In areas where there is not a Town or Parish Council, those wishing to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan can establish a Neighbourhood Forum which must have a minimum of 21 Members. They must apply to the Council to designate a forum and the Council must consult on this. Where possible, the Council will carry out consultations for a Neighbourhood Forum and a Neighbourhood Plan Area at the same time.

Stage 2 - Preparing the Plan

Following the acceptance of a Neighbourhood Area, the Town or Parish Council undertakes evidence gathering and public engagement activities. This should allow as many people as possible, who will be impacted by the plan, to engage in the process. The Town or Parish Council then prepare, and consult on, a draft plan to reflect the outcomes of their local engagement (Regulation 14)

Stage 3 - Plan Submission

Under Regulation 15, the Neighbourhood Plan is submitted to the Council by the Town/Parish Council.

The Plan is then publicised for a minimum of six weeks by the Council and representations are invited (Regulation 16). The Council will publish the consultation on the draft Neighbourhood Plan on its website and will publicise it within the plan area.

Stage 4 - Examination

The Council appoints an independent Examiner to undertake an examination of the proposed Neighbourhood Plan to assess whether the plan meets the basic conditions and other tests within the legislation, and to consider any comments which have been received. The Examiner may then recommend modifications to the Plan if required. The Examiner then provides their report to the Council who publish the report and take the decision on whether the Neighbourhood Plan meets the Basic Conditions and should proceed to referendum. The Council will publish its decision in a Decision Statement.

Stage 5 - Referendum

The community within the Neighbourhood Area (unless the Examiner considers it necessary to extend the referendum to other areas) are asked to vote for the Neighbourhood Plan in a Neighbourhood Planning Referendum organised by the Council. The Neighbourhood Plan must be considered favourably by over 50% of those who vote in order for the Council to adopt it.

Stage 6 - Adoption

Following a positive result at Referendum, the Neighbourhood Plan is then 'made' by the Council at a full Council meeting. The Neighbourhood Plan is then part of the District's Development Plan and used by the Council in determining planning applications.