The Impact of Neighbourhood Plans

Some Residents at our recent meeting (3rd April) held to launch the Plan Questionnaire, asked if making a Neighbourhood Plan would “make any difference”. Well, we believe IT DOES. Why?

 

  • The Neighbourhood Plan Act 2017 was made law on 27th April 2017, just after the Election was announced. This gives yet greater emphasis and weight to the importance of Neighbourhood Plans:

    • So, once the Draft Plan is passed at referendum, and even before it is passed by Uttlesford District Council, it has effect.

    • The Plan Examiner when reviewing the Draft Plan before it proceeds to Referendum, is obliged to engage with us and discuss his draft Report.

    • While the Neighbourhood Plan cannot be used to frustrate UDC general policies once they are contained in the Local Plan, we intend and hope that our Neighbourhood Plan even in draft form can positively influence UDC in the making of the Local Plan.

    • Neighbourhood Plans can be produced and kept up to date more easily than was the case under prior Regulations.

 

  • The Housing Minister (Gavin Barwell) made a Written Statement on 12 December 2016 reinforcing the importance of Neighbourhood Plans. He observed that such plans have an importance in meeting new housing needs and stated that they should be respected by a District Council, adding that where a planning application conflicts with a Neighbourhood Plan that is in force, planning permission should not normally be granted.

 

  • The Housing White Paper issued on 07 February 2017 also seeks to bolster Neighbourhood Plans while in preparation but taking into account a District wide housing supply and requirement.

 

  • Several legal cases involving the Parishes/Communities including those of Newick, Lewes, East Bergholt and Yapton, West Sussex have been reported. They all involved a serious knock-back to the prospective developers concerned applying for planning permission in the face of Neighbourhood Plans which did not support the prospective applications.

 

  • The latter case is informative, since the Planning Application was “called in” from the Local Authority decision, and the Planning Inspector recommended that permission for 100 houses be granted. The Minister did not agree (contrary to Departmental Advice) and the developers appealed to the High Court, who on 11 April 2017 decided that the Neighbourhood Plan was to be to be given full weight and as the application was contrary to it, the developers’ appeal was rejected.

 

  • The Court repeated the core principle of neighbourhood planning contained in the National Planning Policy Framework namely that it should be: “genuinely plan-led, empowering local people to shape their surroundings, with succinct local and neighbourhood plans setting out a positive vision for the future”.

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