Neighbourhood Planning, Planning Reform and Village Design Statements

Neighbourhood Planning

In South Northamptonshire Neighbourhood planning will be taken forward by parish councils. SNC has a general duty to support neighbourhood plans, and have certain specific tasks to undertake during the process:

Current Consultations

None currently.

Neighbourhood Plans

Eleven parishes have already been designated as Neighbourhood Planning areas. Further information can be found on the pages below:

Neighbourhood Plan Update

We have put together a Neighbourhood Plan Update (285kb pdf) of where all of the current Neighbourhood Plans are up to and this will be reviewed on a regular basis as the plans progress.

We have also put together a map of all of the current approved 'Neighbourhood Areas' across the district (2.46 mb pdf).

Funding and Further Information

Under current arrangements SNC receives funding to offset its costs of the development of Neighbourhood Plans. This is based on the following arrangements set out by DCLG (April 2016) as follows, SNC can claim £5,000 for the first five neighbourhood areas designated. The limit of five areas applies to the total number of areas designated in the LPA (ie it includes areas designated in previous years). SNC is no longer eligible for this funding as more than 5 parishes have been designated in the District. SNC can claim £20,000 once they have set a date for a referendum following a successful examination.

This money is to ensure that the Council receives sufficient funding to enable it to meet new legislative duties in relation to neighbourhood planning. Specifically, it covers the neighbourhood planning duties introduced in the Localism Act 2011 which are to provide advice or assistance; to hold an examination; and to make arrangements for a referendum.

It is important to note that this funding is not available to a parish council.

Further information on Neighbourhood Planning can be found at a variety of sources including potential sources of funding for parish councils.

Regulations

In 2012 the Government published, and have subsequently updated, a set of Regulations on Neighbourhood Plans.

Neighbourhood Planning Newsletter

Regular bulletins have been published by the neighbourhood planning team at the Department for Communities and Local Government about latest news and policy developments.

Ownership of the Neighbourhood Plan

The decision to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan rests solely with a parish council. A parish council can appoint a working group to undertake the Neighbourhood Plan work but this work together with all decisions made by a parish council must be transparent and formally made and minuted accordingly, so there is a clear record. A parish council could also formally stop work on the Plan if it decides at any time.

Local Needs Housing and Positive Planning

The National Planning Policy Framework includes a presumption in favour of sustainable development. All plans, including Neighbourhood Plans, must positively and sustainably seek to meet the development needs of their area.

Neighbourhood Plans should enable new developments, which demonstrate that they are sustainable, to be approved without delay.

Critically, the presumption in favour of sustainable development means that Neighbourhood Plans must support the strategic development needs for housing, infrastructure and economic development set out in local plans. Neighbourhood Plans cannot prevent development where this has been identified in local plans.

Neighbourhood Planning can influence where additional new development is located, and the design, layout and materials used. Neighbourhood Planning can help to ensure that new development is sympathetic to the surrounding area and meets the needs of the local community. The Government is very clear that it will not be possible to use Neighbourhood Plans to stop development. Indeed it is the Government's expectation that Neighbourhood Plans will at least provide for development to meet local needs and provide the opportunity to identify an increased level of development within their area if appropriate.
 
The Neighbourhood Plan should therefore undertake a robust objective and transparent local housing needs assessment to identify whether there is a local need for additional market and affordable housing within the parish for the plan period. If there is a need then sites within the parish will need to be objectively assessed and compared against an objective and transparent set of criteria and the most suitable site allocated to meet this need.

This process will need to be evidenced based and robust as there will likely be objections to both the local needs outcome (whether zero or higher) as well as any preferred site if required. Any allocations included in a Neighbourhood Plan will effectively mean that they have 'permission in principle' and will be developed. The matter of a Neighbourhood Plan proposing additional development will clearly be an important issue for a parish council to consider together with local residents and one that will be closely scrutinised by interested landowners/developers.

Localism Act

The Localism Act received the Royal Assent on 15 November 2011. The Government has set out the five key measures in the Localism Act:

A Plain English Guide to the Localism Act has been published by Department for Communities and Local Government:

New Homes Bonus

As part of its reforms to the planning system, the Government has introduced a new payment as an incentive for Planning approvals for new housing. An element of this Bonus is available for grants to community and voluntary sector groups for projects and activities. Further details of this can be found at:

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published by the Government in March 2012. The NPPF is a set of planning policies to be applied nationally in preparing development plan documents including Neighbourhood Plans and in determining planning applications. In March 2014 the Government also published the National Planning Policy Guidance. This guidance sets out the Government's planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied by local authorities. These can be viewed below:

Local Planning Regulations

Part of the Government's proposals for reforming the Planning System includes streamlining the plan making system. The final regulations were published in April 2012 and can be viewed at:

Registration of new town and village greens

Town and village greens are similar to common land. However, they are defined separately for the purposes of the Commons Registration Act 2006. Village greens are usually areas of land within defined settlements which local inhabitants can go onto for the exercise of lawful sports and pastimes. Typically, these might include organised or ad-hoc games, picnics, fetes and other similar activities. Common land is land, usually in private ownership, that has rights of common over it.

Responsibility for registration of new village greens rests with Northamptonshire County Council. Further information can be found at the following link:

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have produced guidance notes and Frequently Asked Questions documents for the new village green and common land forms 44 and 45. These along with other supporting information regarding Village Green or Common Land applications can be found on the DEFRA website.

Village Design Statements

Village Design Statements (VDSs) are an important tool for use in helping to protect the character of villages in terms of sensitive design. Parish Councils have committed a significant amount of work to the preparation of such documents. They are a practical tool to help influence decisions on design and development. Prepared correctly, a VDS will provide a clear statement of the character of a particular village against which planning applications may be assessed. A VDS is not concerned with whether development should take place but with how planned development should be carried out, so that it is in harmony with its setting and contributes to the conservation and, where possible, enhancement of the local environment.

Draft Village Design Statements

Adopted Village Design Statements

Please also refer to Village Design Guidance prepared by SNC for all villages in the District.

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