The Localism Act has introduced new provisions to empower communities. The new powers include provisions for the preparation of neighbourhood plans and neighbourhood development orders. Neighbourhood development orders enable communities to effectively grant planning permission for development. Neighbourhood plans can simply replace previous design statements and parish plans, or can amply policies in Local Plans.
Neighbourhood plans are intended to be positively prepared, in order to set out on what basis development will be accepted. Plans offer an opportunity for communities to manage physical change and ensure necessary compensation and mitigation is secured through planning gain. Plans are not however intended to prevent or constrain development.
The government is committed to empowering communities to make decisions about their own future. To this end, there have been several announcements concerning the availability of funding to help in the preparation of neighbourhood plans.
Directions Planning Consultancy is already supporting a number of parish councils and community forums to prepare neighbourhood plans. We understand the process, appreciate the nature of local issues, and have developed best practice.
We believe that consultants should not take over and draft the actual plan. Instead we focus on working with communities by managing the process: providing strategic guidance, delivering training and helping to organise consultation. We can also help to secure funding. Our support ensures the plan is owned by the community, which encourages implementation and effectiveness rather than preparing a plan that ends up on a shelf at the end of the process.