The Neighbourhood Plan process is set out in the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012. The Regulations define the main stages that a Neighbourhood Plan must go through before it is voted on at a local referendum.
Community engagement and involvement throughout the plan process is an essential principle of neighbourhood planning. This includes:
- involvement of both parishioners and parish councillors in the Steering Group
- regular information updates to the community
- access to information about the plan through the website
- community meetings and consultation
- residents’ survey (Questionnaire)
The following are some key stages in the plan process as required by law.
Local Consultation on the draft plan
Local Consultation on the draft plan is a legal requirement. We expect that the Neighbourhood Plan will reach this stage in late summer (August–September) 2017. The draft Plan and its policies will be subject to a 6-week period of Local Consultation. Anyone who wishes to make comments on the Plan must use this opportunity to formally register their views. The parish councils will advertise the fact that the Plan is open for consultation and comment. People will be notified where they can see a copy of the plan, how to submit their comments, and the deadline for submission of comments.
At the end of the formal consultation period the Steering Group will consider all the representations received and decide how to respond to them. This will include making appropriate modifications to the draft Plan.
Submission to Local Authority and public consultation
The amended Plan will then be submitted to the borough council, together with a Consultation Statement and a Basic Conditions Statement. These two statements explain how the Plan satisfies the legal requirements. The borough council must check whether the Plan has followed the correct legal process and has met the legal requirements for consultation and publicity. If the borough council is satisfied in this regard it will publish the Plan and invite representations from the public and from statutory consultees. At this stage any comments must focus on whether the Plan satisfies the basic legal conditions. Once the Plan has been submitted to the local authority the policies of the Plan will begin to have weight and must be referred to when decisions are made on planning applications.
After the 6-week publicity period the borough council (with the agreement of the parish councils) will appoint an independent examiner to consider the plan and any representations made at the public consultation stage. The independent examiner’s task is limited to considering whether the Plan meets the basic conditions. There will be little scope to alter the content of the Plan at this stage. The independent examiner will prepare a report that can recommend that the Plan proceeds to local referendum, or proceeds to local referendum with appropriate modifications. If the examiner concludes that the Plan does not meet the basic conditions they will recommend that it does not proceed to referendum.
If the examiner finds the Plan to be satisfactory, with modifications if necessary, the borough council will then arrange for a local referendum to take place. All people on the electoral register of the Neighbourhood Area will be entitled to vote. If 50% or more of the votes are in support the plan, then the borough council will bring the Plan into force. After the Plan comes into force all planning applications in the Neighbourhood Area must be decided with reference to the policies of the Plan.
We hope that the local referendum can take place in spring 2018.
Your participation in the Neighbourhood Plan is important!
Please take part in the Local Consultation when it happens.
Please turn out to vote in the local referendum.