Communities Minister Don Foster today (14 March 2013) announced a £9.5million, 2-year fund to support people in hundreds of areas across the country in creating neighbourhood plans to shape development in their area, such as the location of new housing and businesses. Groups of residents seeking to create a neighbourhood plan will be able to bid for up to £7,000 each to contribute to the costs of preparing their proposal.
The country’s first neighbourhood plan was passed in Upper Eden in Cumbria earlier this month, with over 90% voting in favour. More than 500 communities across England are making use of the new neighbourhood planning powers that for the first time enable them to benefit from plans that have real statutory weight in the system. Today’s funding will support many of these as well as new communities coming forward.
Speaking in Bankside, south London, to local businesses and residents creating their own joint neighbourhood plan, Don Foster said:
This government is all about giving power back to people locally to allow them to shape their community, and these powers are kicking in. We’ve already seen overwhelming support for the first neighbourhood plan in Upper Eden and there is real appetite in hundreds of communities across the country to follow suit. This funding will provide practical help to people to make neighbourhood plans a reality in their community.
Neighbourhood planning groups will find full details about the new 2-year programme from 15 April on the My Community Rights website. Communities will be able to submit applications for support and grants from 1 May. First payments and direct support packages are expected to be agreed in May. Further details can be found in the factsheet.
The contract to deliver the new programme has been awarded to Locality, in partnership with the Royal Town Planning Institute, Planning Aid England, the Community Development Foundation, Urban Vision Enterprise, Eden Project and URS.
Locality Chief Executive Steve Wyler said:
We are delighted to be awarded the neighbourhood planning contract to provide support to communities across the country wanting to transform their local area. Locality has experience of working with pioneering groups to design their own neighbourhood plans. This is an exciting opportunity, with guidance and grants enabling many more people to design their own environments and create sustainable solutions which meet the needs of those who live there.
Dr Peter Geraghty, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said:
This is extremely good news for communities getting to grips with neighbourhood planning. New funding over the next 2 years will help us give them the direct help and support they need to continue to progress their neighbourhood plans and to have a real say and an influence over planning in their local areas.
Neighbourhood plans are a new right for communities to decide the future of the places where they live and work. It allows them to choose where they want new development such as homes, shops and offices to be built. They can have their say on what those new buildings should look like and what facilities should be provided. They can also grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead.
Once a draft plan has been drawn up and consulted on locally it is submitted for an independent examination and once passed is submitted to a local referendum. Plans that are approved will form part of the development plan for the local authority area and will carry real legal weight in planning decisions.