Frequently asked questions Neighbourhood planning

Every community has the right to produce a Neighbourhood Plan, but it is not compulsory.

It will be up to each community to decide if a Neighbourhood Plan is the right approach for dealing with local key issues and aspirations, as there may be other 'tools' available to help shape your community which may be more appropriate.

A neighbourhood area is the area in which the Neighbourhood Plan will relate to. Further information is available in our guide to neighbourhood areas.

Parish and town council’s are regarded as 'qualifying bodies' and have an automatic right to produce a Neighbourhood Plan. In areas that do not have a parish or town council a plan maybe produced by a designated neighbourhood forum. For further details on neighbourhood forums please refer to the question on that topic.

The parish/town council or designated neighbourhood forum should however enlist hep from members of the local community, below is a list of stakeholders that should be sought to be involved:

  • Local residents;
  • Local businesses;
  • Community organisations;
  • Elected representatives;
  • Local land owners; and
  • Developers

A neighbourhood forum is made up of at least 21 people who will lead and co-ordinate the plan-making process where there is no parish or town council in place. Further information is available in our guide to neighbourhood forums.

The cost of producing a Neighbourhood Plan will depend largely on scope, complexity and size of the plan.

The qualifying body are responsible for paying for the preparation of the plan.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG formerly the DCLG) has continued to provide funding for 'My Community and Locality' to provide a neighbourhood planning support programme. This programme provides support to anyone working on a Neighbourhood Plan.

MHCLG offer two different types of support as part of this programme:

  • Technical support
  • Neighbourhood planning grants

For further details about the neighbourhood planning support package please visit the My Community website.

The borough council are responsible for paying for the examination and referendum.

No – the Government has made it clear that it is not a tool to be used to stop or promote less development that set out in or undermine the strategic policies for the area.

The borough council provides support to those developing a neighbourhood plan, the level of support on offer includes

  • Access to existing data and relevant reports prepared for plan making purposes evidence obtained through the preparation of the Local Plan
  • Providing direction to other relevant information sources and content
  • Access to officers within the planning policy team to provide general advice
  • Providing general mapping support

Locality has produced a suite of guides and toolkits which provide practical tips and advice on various stages of the neighbourhood plan process from designating the neighbourhood area to submitting the plan for examination and are designed for community groups to use. Visit their website at

Neighbourhood plans must be in general conformity with the strategic policies within the statutory development plan, in this case the Adopted Local Plan 2006.

Once formally 'made' (i.e. brought into force), neighbourhood plans will form part of the statutory development plan for that area.

The policies it contains take precedence over existing non-strategic policies in the Local Plan covering the neighbourhood area, it must be noted that they can be superseded by strategic or non-strategic policies that are adopted subsequently.

The Government want local authorities to get plans in place without delay to reflect the development needs of their local area based on an up to date evidence base. Work can still begin on preparing a Neighbourhood Plan, however it should be noted that the Neighbourhood Plan needs to be in general conformity with the Local Plan.

There is no prescribed time frame for producing a Neighbourhood Plan, however they are a significant commitment in terms of time. They can take months or years, the time frame will vary greatly between different plans and areas.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) now requires strategic policies (i.e. Local Plans) to set housing requirements for designated neighbourhood areas. Currently, no housing requirement figures have been set for individual parishes within Amber Valley.

In the absence of a set housing requirement figure, the qualifying body may exceptionally need to determine the requirement figure themselves taking into account relevant polices, existing and emerging spatial strategy and characteristics of the neighbourhood area. AECOM on behalf of Locality have produced a toolkit on How to undertake a Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) which can be used for this purpose. Any identified figure will need to be tested at examination of the neighbourhood plan.

Where a qualifying body has identified the housing requirement for the neighbourhood area they can seek to identify sites to accommodate this level of growth. In doing so, the NPPF states that qualifying bodies should also consider the opportunities for allocating small and medium-sized sites (of a size consistent with paragraph 68a of the NPPF) suitable for housing in their area.

Neighbourhood Plans are a material consideration in the decision-making process of planning applications and carry different weight at different stages of the process of production.

A draft Neighbourhood Plan will only carry limited weight whereas a plan that has been through an examination and following a successful referendum will carry full weight.

A neighbourhood development order allows communities to grant planning permission for development they want to see go ahead in a neighbourhood. For example, it enables them to allow certain developments, such as extensions to houses, to be built without the need to apply for planing application. To enable this to happen the proposal must:

  • Have the agreement of more than 50% of the local people that vote through the referendum.
  • Be in general conformity with national planning policies and strategy elements of the Local Plan.

The community right to build allows communities to undertake small-scale, site specific, community-led developments. Community right to build gives communities the freedom to build new homes, shops, businesses or facilities where they want them, without going through the normal planning application process. To enable this to happen the proposal must:

  • Have the agreement of more than 50% of the local people that vote through the referendum.
  • Be in general conformity with national planning policies and strategy elements of the Local Plan.
Need further help or information?

Contact the team directly on 01773 841584 or email