Frequently asked questions
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A neighbourhood plan is a new type of plan introduced in the 2011 Localism Act. It will be the result of a community working together to decide how their local area should develop and grow in the future
Who can prepare Neighbourhood Plans?
Neighbourhood plans can be prepared by parish or town councils for the area for which they are a designated authority. Plans can also be developed by a neighbourhood forum, established by a group of people (minimum 21) living or working within a local area, to produce a plan for the future development of the area.
What influence does a Neighbourhood Plan have?
A neighbourhood plan, once approved by a majority of residents and businesses within an area voting in a local referendum, has statutory force within the Local Development framework. A local authority, such as Woking Borough Council, will be required to take account of a neighbourhood plan in implementing its Local Development Plan.
A neighbourhood plan can influence the type, design, location and mix of new development, however it cannot block new development required to meet the borough's existing and future needs.
What other types of neighbourhood planning are there?
A neighbourhood plan will set out the vision, general principles and policies for an area. There are two other types of planning powers local communities can now use in the context of Neighbourhood Planning -
- Neighbourhood Development Orders - these allow for certain types of development without the need for planning permission.
- Community Right to Build Order: this allows a local area to build small scale housing developments, shops or community facilities.
All three types of new neighbourhood planning powers can be used in conjunction.
Can a Neighbourhood Plan stop development happening in an area?
A neighbourhood plan can guide development to be more appropriate to local context and help decide where it goes within the area. A neighbourhood plan cannot stop development and government has made it clear that it is not a tool for residents to oppose proposals for new developments close to them. A neighbourhood plan can only include proposals for an equal (or greater) amount of growth than is set out in the Council's development plan, regional and national guidance.
What weight is given to Neighbourhood Plans in deciding local planning matters?
When adopted, neighbourhood plans are statutory planning documents. They form part of the local development plan for Woking Borough. Neighbourhood plans have significant weight in making decisions on planning applications.
How long did the plan take to develop?
As part of the development of the plan a thorough review of existing schemes and proposals was reviewed and the process had to allow for extensive consultation and engagement amongst local people. The process in Hook Heath took around two years to complete.
Can the plan be changed?
Neighbourhood planning guidance has been revised to include new plan updating procedures – i.e. where a plan has been prepared and ‘made’ by the local planning authority and the group that prepared it wants to update part(s) rather than prepare a totally new neighbourhood plan. Importantly, where updates are proposed and do not significantly change the nature of the plan, the Examiner’s report will be binding - and providing the updated plan meets the basic condition tests there will be no requirement to hold a new referendum.
What has the plan achieved?
It’s difficult to be precise because of the overlap with Woking Council policies. However, the Neighbourhood Plan has been quoted in a large number of planning decisions. Policy BE1 is the most quoted but BE2 and even BE3 have been referred to as well.
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