Latest guidance on Covid-19 and neighbourhood planning

Locality have published some useful information on how neighbourhood plans can progress within the current social distancing measures. Their grant support programme remains open and they highlight plenty of activities that can proceed with minimal adjustments. The guidance provides a link to the latest updates to the National Planning Policy Guidance which considers the formal stages of the neighbourhood plan process.

It is worth noting that although MHCLG suggest that Regulation 14 and 16 public consultations can be carried out (see their FAQ paper) some Local Authorities are taking a different view. If in doubt it is best to consult your Local Authority for their position.

Neighbourhood Planning client list continues to grow

Cambridgeshire ACRE’s Neighbourhood Planning service continues to grow. 2019/20 was our busiest year yet with support provided to 16 NP groups including nine new commissions. And we are in discussions with a number of new groups pending a relaxation of  social distancing measures. You can see a list of NP groups we have supported here.

Our support on the Witchford Neighbourhood Plan is completed and this plan successfully passed its referendum in March 2020. Our support on the Great Abington former Land Settlement Association Estate Neighbourhood Plan is also completed and this plan was adopted by South Cambridgeshire DC on 21 February 2019.

 

Interactive online neighbourhood planning training for parish & town councils

On of our associates, Rachel Leggett, is delivering a series of online, interactive sessions on neighbourhood planning for town & parish councils. Among other things, the sessions will look at how you can progress your plan given the constraints imposed by social distancing measures. The sessions are free and booking details can be found on the information leaflet. (And yes, Cambridgeshire groups are welcome to join the sessions)

Neighbourhood Planning in Practice

A new book on Neighbourhood Planning has been published. Professor Gavin Parker and colleagues at the University of Reading have produced a book for practitioners. It addresses experiences to date and identifies key lessons for those starting, or contemplating starting, the Neighbourhood Planning process.

This flier provides further details including how to get a 25% discount on the book (offer valid until 31 December 2019)

Implications of the revised NPPF

The revised National Planning Policy Framework was published in July 2018. It has important implications for neighbourhood planning. One positive aspect is the duty on local planning authorities (LPA) to provide a housing requirement figure for Neighbourhood Plan areas. This should make it easier for local groups to plan without recourse to complex housing studies.

However, Neighbourhood Plans continue to be undermined by the risk of their over-arching local plan being deemed out of date by virtue of the  LPA being unable to demonstrate a five year housing land supply or meet the newly introduced Housing Delivery Test.

Where the Local Plan is deemed to be out of date the Neighbourhood Plan will carry limited weight unless it can meet all four of the following criteria:

  • the Neighbourhood Plan has been part of the development plan for two years or less before the date on which the decision is taken;
  • the Neighbourhood Plan contains policies and allocations to meet its identified need;
  • the LPA has a three year supply of deliverable sites against its total housing requirement; and
  • it delivered 45% of this over the previous three years

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Service leaflet updated

We have recently updated our Service Leaflet explaining how we can support local communities to develop their Neighbourhood Plan. We are currently providing support to a dozen Neighbourhood Planning groups in Cambridgeshire (and surrounding counties) and are in discussions with several more. Our leaflet is a good starting point for understanding how we can help you. However, if you want to discuss matters further please get in touch.