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Neighbourhood development plans give communities a greater say

07 April 2015

We have written an article for Waste Planning magazine.

We have written an article for Waste Planning magazine.

You can read the article in full below, and on the Waste Planning website here. This article is behind a paywall.

Anyone proposing a development for which planning permission is needed will know of the importance of the statutory development plan in the planning determination. Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and Section 70(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 require that decisions are made in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

However, an important extension to the scope of the development plan has seemingly slipped into the planning regime with remarkably little comment. The Localism Act 2011 created a new style plan, namely the neighbourhood development plan (the NDP). The NDP is one limb of the wider “neighbourhood planning” concept. That consists of three separate tools (NDPs, neighbourhood development orders and community right to build orders). We look at the NDP limb here.

The influence of a neighbourhood community in the determination of a planning permission can be significant. As such, most waste operators already engage with the community before and during the promotion of a development proposal. Communities are now further empowered by the ability to produce a NDP.

NDPs deal with the use and development of land, and the related social, economic and environmental issues. They may cover a wide range of topics (including transport, employment, housing and heritage). There are parameters to an NDP however, meaning that an NDP must comply with certain conditions. These conditions are, principally, that an NDP must be appropriate having regard to national policy, it must contribute to the achievement of sustainable development and must be in general conformity with the strategic policies in the development plan for the local area.

An NDP is subject to public consultation and post-consultation modification. It is then submitted to the local planning authority. If an LPA considers that, with modification, the NDP would meet the conditions noted above then those modifications must be made. Independent examination follows and, once the NDP is found to be satisfactory, a referendum is held. If successful, the LPA will bring the NDP into legal force and it forms part of the local statutory development plan.

Given the potential importance of an NDP for the purposes of both forward planning and development management decisions, both operators and local planning authorities alike should pay close attention to the detail of an emerging NDP, engage meaningfully with it and make relevant representations at the appropriate time through the plan making process. If an emerging NDP does not meet the conditions noted above, for example, appropriate representations can be made on the point.

The importance of the NDP should not be underestimated. Unlike some other local planning documents (parish plans, for example) an NDP has statutory status. This gives it weight in a planning sense and its provisions may affect the likelihood that permission will be granted.

In recent appeal decisions the Secretary of State has not only recognised, rightly, the importance of a final NDP, but has demonstrated that an emerging NDP may be determinative in the decision making process if a development proposal would prejudice an emerging NDP.

There is political support for NDPs, to the extent that the Department for Communities and Local Government response to a consultation last year, which included proposed changes to the neighbourhood planning system, has recommended changes to make the NDP production process easier and quicker.

Originally published on 2 April 2015.

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