Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis today (26 February 2015) announced a multi-million pound boost to support communities looking to set up neighbourhood plans.
Neighbourhood planning allows people to decide the future development of their area, including where new homes and businesses should be built.
Nearly 1,400 areas representing 6 million people across England are already using their neighbourhood planning powers, with others looking to follow suit.
Today Mr Lewis announced that neighbourhood planning groups will be able to apply for grant funding from midday tomorrow (Friday 27 February 2015) as part of the £22.5 million programme. Grants can be used to pay for events to engage the local community, print leaflets and to pay for specialist planning expertise.
The support programme runs to 2018 and from April it will also provide community groups with technical assistance and expert advice to support new neighbourhood plans and neighbourhood development orders, throughout the process.
It comes as ministers are due to host a national neighbourhood planning summit, bringing together local authorities, MPs, builders, and communities from across the country to help more people bring forward neighbourhood plans.
Visiting Altrincham Forward, which is seeking a business-led neighbourhood plan for the town, Brandon Lewis said:
From the very beginning we’ve been clear that we wanted to give power back from Whitehall to local communities and with 6 million people living in areas producing neighbourhood plans the success of our reforms is clear.
Now I want to keep up the momentum, and encourage more areas to come forward and this new £22 million programme for grant applications will do just that. It will also support lots more areas and enable people to take control over planning in their neighbourhood.
Giving power back to local people
Local people can draw up ‘neighbourhood plans’ that can be used in determining planning applications, and ‘neighbourhood development orders’ that grant planning permission; and vote them into force in a referendum.
To date, every one of the 48 plans and 4 orders submitted to a local referendum have been approved by local people.
The government will also launch a new online toolkit tomorrow, for neighbourhood planning communities, to help them navigate the process and develop their plan as effectively as possible.
Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Locality, said:
We’re delighted to have been selected to deliver Department for Communities and Local Government’s new neighbourhood planning programme. Over the past 2 years we’ve helped local people create the neighbourhoods they want to live in and now more than 10% of the country’s population lives in a designated neighbourhood plan area. We want many more people to have a say in the development of their local area and we will be continuing and expanding our support to help more communities shape the development of their own neighbourhoods.
We will help more people have a say in where homes, shops and offices should be built and influence what new buildings should look like. From tomorrow (Friday, February 27) at noon our new website mycommunity.org.uk will be live, providing information on the new support and grants Locality will be offering to help local people who want to shape the development of their area.
Grants for community groups wanting to gain permission for new community buildings or community-led housing are also opening at midday tomorrow.
Locality, a national network of community-led organisations, is delivering the government’s neighbourhood planning support programme and will be assessing applications.
For further information on grants see www.mycommunity.org.uk after noon on Friday, February 27.
New toolkits will be available at www.mycommunityrights.org.uk.