Planning reform

Supporting detail:

Neighbourhood planning

Neighbourhood planning gives communities the power to:

  • make a neighbourhood development plan
  • make a neighbourhood development order
  • make a Community Right to Build order

Neighbourhood planning was introduced through the Localism Act 2011. Neighbourhood planning legislation came into effect in April 2012.

Neighbourhood development plans

A neighbourhood development plan establishes general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood, like:

  • where new homes and offices should be built
  • what they should look like

The plan can be detailed or general, depending what local people want.

Neighbourhood plans allow local people to get the right type of development for their community, but the plans must still meet the needs of the wider area. In most cases we expect this will mean that neighbourhood plans will have to take into account the local council’s assessment of housing and other development needs in the area.

Neighbourhood planning is a growing movement. As of April 2014:

  • around 1,000 communities have taken the first formal steps towards producing a neighbourhood development plan
  • 80 full draft plans have been produced for consultation
  • 13 neighbourhood plans have been passed at community referendums

Neighbourhood development orders

A neighbourhood development order allows the community to grant planning permission for development that complies with the order. This removes the need for a planning application to be submitted to the local authority.

Community Right to Build orders

A Community Right to Build order gives permission for small-scale, site-specific developments by a community group.

Neighbourhood forums

Neighbourhood planning will be led by the local parish or town council. In areas without a parish or town council, new neighbourhood forums will take the lead.

In areas which are predominately commercial, the neighbourhood forum can be led by a business neighbourhood forum.

Community infrastructure levy

Parishes with a neighbourhood plan will receive 25% of any community infrastructure levy arising from developments in their area compared to parishes without a neighbourhood plan who will receive 15%.

Role of the local planning authority

The local planning authority has a duty to support communities making their neighbourhood plan. For example, it will organise the independent examination of the neighbourhood development plan, neighbourhood development order or Community Right to Build order. This is to check that the plan or order meets certain basic conditions.

The local planning authority is responsible for organising the neighbourhood planning referendum. The referendum ensures that the local community has the final say on whether a neighbourhood development plan, neighbourhood development order or a Community Right to Build order comes into force in their area.

To support their role, local planning authorities can claim funding of at least £30,000 per completed plan.

Support for communities using neighbourhood planning

There are several sources of advice and support for communities who are interested in doing neighbourhood planning:

From May 2013, the government has run a £10.8 million, 2-year programme to support communities to progress their neighbourhood development plans and neighbourhood development orders. The programme offers hands-on, practical support and grants of up to £7,000 per neighbourhood area. Communities have been able to submit applications from 1 May 2013. Full programme details are available from the My Community Rights website. For more information, see the factsheet.

The local planning authority is under a duty to support and obliged by law to help people draw up their neighbourhood plans.

Developers, parish and town councils, landowners and local businesses may all be interested in sponsoring and taking a leading role in neighbourhood planning. In fact, in many areas, local businesses are working alongside local residents, local government and others with an interest in the neighbourhood’s future development and growth.

Further information

We have revised planning practice guidance to make it easily accessible and available online. The guidance includes a section devoted to neighbourhood planning. This site is also home to the National Planning Policy Framework as understanding national policy is an important part of developing a successful neighbourhood plan. More information on neighbourhood planning and other community right can also be found on the My Community Rights website.

The DCLG policy team also produces regular bulletins containing latest news and policy developments.