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Neighbourhood planning

General information about neighbourhood areas and the neighbourhood planning process

What is neighbourhood planning?

Neighbourhood planning is a new way for communities to decide the future of where they live and work.

Neighbourhood development plans set out a vision for the use of land in the community.

The plans are prepared by town and parish councils, or neighbourhood forums.

Neighbourhood plans can't:

  • stop all development in the area
  • plan for less development than our Local Plan requires

Neighbourhood areas

The first stage of preparing a neighbourhood plan is agreeing what area the plan will cover. This is usually the parish boundary. 

After we receive an application from a community group, we'll check the area and make any amendments. Once we agree the area, it becomes known as a 'designated neighbourhood area'.

Neighbourhood plans

Once we decide a designated neighbourhood area, the next stage is to prepare the plan.

It's a local community plan. Your community will need to make the decisions on what you want in your plan (you may use consultants to help).

Once prepared, the plan will:

  • sit alongside the Local Plan
  • be taken into account when decisions are being made on planning applications
  • give communities a real opportunity to guide and shape development in their area

The plan can be detailed or general depending on what local people want. But it must:

Because plans will affect what can be built, they must go through a number of formal procedures:

  • a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)/Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) screening
  • public consultation
  • an examination by an independent expert
  • a referendum to find out the level of local support for the plan 

This is to make sure everyone has the chance to comment on them, and they meet tests laid down by law.


The final stage in the Neighbourhood Planning stage is the referendum. This is undertaken in accordance with relevant electoral law and regulations, including the 2012 Neighbourhood Planning Referendums and Prescribed Dates Regulations. The Borough Council has also produced guidance explaining the rules on publicity in the lead up to referendums, and limits on expenses, which can be viewed below.

Guidance document


Various guidance relating to neighbourhood plans is available and can help you through the process. For example, my community/locality provides guides and information on their website, including:

  • how to produce a neighbourhood development plan
  • the requirements for SEAs and HRAs for a neighbourhood plan
  • how to set up a neighbourhood forum