If you’re thinking of making a Neighbourhood Plan, or you’re already doing so, our toolkit will guide you through the process, step by step.
Before you begin, you should make sure a Neighbourhood Plan will do what you want it to. You may find a community led plan is more suitable right now. They have the added advantage that you can use them to help create a neighbourhood plan in the future.
To see some examples of what the different types of plan are for, and how a community led plans can help you create a neighbourhood plan take a look at this diagram.
Address the issues and opportunities your community faces. Answer questions like where are we now? Where do we want to be? How do we get there? To help you do this, you can:
This is known as ‘scoping’.
FIND OUT MORE
Look at what other communities are doing, especially ones similar to yours
Most of you are here to read about how to put together a Neighbourhood Development Plan, which is what we refer to as a Neighbourhood Plan. But you can also use this toolkit to help create a neighbourhood development order or a community right to build order, because the processes are very similar. Here’s a quick summary of what each of them is for:
Use it to set out a vision for your area and to provide planning policies to decide what types of new homes and businesses should be built, where and what they should look like.
Neighbourhood development plans must:
If your neighbourhood development plan meets these basic conditions and is approved at a local referendum, we will adopt it and use it to help decide planning applications the area. You shouldn’t try to use these plans as a way to prevent development.
You can use this to grant permission for certain types of development for a particular site or area. It means a development can go ahead in that area without making a planning application, as long as they comply with the current policies and regulations.
These can give community organisations the right to build small-scale developments on specific sites without needing planning permission. You can use them to encourage buildings that benefit the community like affordable housing, playgrounds or a village shops.
We carry out a lot of the formal processes, like organising the referendum. We will also:
The first step is identifying the ‘qualifying body’ that will be responsible for submitting the Neighbourhood Plan. The qualifying body is either a parish/town council or neighbourhood forum. Communities covered by a parish meeting need to set up a neighbourhood planning forum if they wish to prepare a neighbourhood plan. More information on setting up a neighbourhood planning forum can be found here.
The neighbouhood plan group usually includes town or parish councillors as well as local people with useful skills and knowledge. To give your plan the best chance of success in the referendum, it should represent the whole community, so you should involve the wider community from the start. Examples of community organisations that might join the group include:
This is known as a ‘steering group’.
Write a ‘terms of reference’ so the objectives of the group are clear –
KNOW THE RULES
Send us an application to designate the area you want your neighbourhood plan to cover. Your application should:
We will publish the application on our website for at least four weeks, and we will invite comments from the local community. After considering the application and any comments received, we will decide whether or not to accept the area designation.
Once you’ve successfully designated your neighbourhood plan area, you can access funding and technical support directly from the government.
The types of funding available are:
You can find out more information on government funding here.
Once we’ve heard from you with details of the designated neighbourhood plan area, we will also assign you a case officer who specialises in neighbourhood plans. This person is your first point of contact and will:
If you already have a community led plan, it can help you with some of the first steps that follow. Otherwise, preparing your plan will involve:
You need to gather reliable and up to date information and evidence. You will need to gather detailed evidence like local housing need but it is useful to start with the evidence we’ve collected for our Local Plans.
South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning policy evidence page
You must engage and consult with your local community – this must be widespread and inclusive and should continue throughout the development of the plan.
To meet the minimum legal requirements, you may need to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (an SEA) – we will carry out an ‘SEA screening’ early on to see if you need to. Please complete. If you do need one, you may find this useful.
We recommend you carry out a simple review of how the policies you are drafting will affect the social, environmental and economic aspects of your community. This is checking the ‘sustainability’ of your plan – it will make sure your plan meets the basic conditions and will satisfy the independent examiner.
Our Neighbourhood Development Plan Policy table shows the range of topic areas covered by neighbourhood plans across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse District. The table also signposts the reader towards examples of neighbourhood planning policies for each topic area. The South Oxfordshire neighbourhood plans and policy titles are in black text and the Vale of White Horse ones are in blue text. At the bottom of the table you will find the web links to all the plans detailed in the table.
Once you’ve taken your community’s comments into account and you’re satisfied with the plan, you can then submit it to us.
We will check your plan meets the legal requirements. If your draft plan does not meet the basic conditions and cannot be modified, we may refuse to accept the submitted plan.
Otherwise, we’ll then pay for and make the necessary arrangements for an independent examiner to check the plan, in agreement with you. The examiner:
The Examiner’s report is not legally binding but, unless there is strong evidence to the contrary, we are likely to approve the examiner’s findings.
We will publish the examiner’s report. If recommended, we will organise the local referendum for the plan. If more than 50 per cent of people who vote in the referendum support the plan, we must adopt it.
We will then use the plan to help determine planning applications in the area.