Neighbourhood Plans get governance rules

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A report detailing the help parishes and communities can get from the district council in preparing Neighbourhood Plans has been produced by West Lindsey District Council.

The move comes as West Lindsey and neighbouring councils are working together on the Central Lincolnshire District Plan, in which Neighbourhood Plans can have a major role in determining whether projects gain planning approval.

Council’s like West Lindsey have a statutory duty under the Localism Act 2011 to support communities preparing Neighbourhood Plans and to help with the legal stages which take the plans through to adoption. The government gives councils money to help with the adoption of Neighbourhood plans.

“A Neighbourhood Plan is a statutory community-led framework for guiding the future development and growth of an area. It may contain a vision, aims, planning policies, proposals for improving the area or providing new facilities, or allocation of key sites for specific kinds of development,” said the report.

“Neighbourhood plans relate to the use and development of land and associated social, economic and environmental issues. It may deal with a wide range of issues (like housing, employment, heritage and transport) or it may focus on one or two issues that are of particular importance in a local area,” it continued.

“Neighbourhood Plans will be subject to full public engagement, examination and referendum and they will then form part of the Local Development Plan for the district. This statutory status gives Neighbourhood Plans the same weight in the planning process as the Local Plan and far more weight than some other local planning documents, such as parish plans, community plans and village design statements.”

At present, there are seven Neighbourhood Plans in various stages of preparation and one other at the designation stage.

“This paper sets out the support that will be offered to parishes from West Lindsey in this increasingly growing area, and in addition highlight who is responsible for what,” said the report, presented to last night’s meeting of West Lindsey’s Prosperous Communities Committee.

Details include “the stages of a neighbourhood plan and the support that West Lindsey might give. In this it has to strike a balance in that there are not unlimited resources available to undertake this work. All parish councils will be notified of this Guidance Note,” it said.

It also contained “the internal procedures that West Lindsey must undertake as part of their duties under the Act. This will help members remain aware of the progress of neighbourhood plans, but also informs them of who is making the decision at various stages of the process.”

West Lindsey District Council is to place this Neighbourhood Planning Guidance Note on its website and notify every parish council.