What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
The Localism Act (2011) introduced new powers, allowing communities to create their own planning policies in the shape of ‘Neighbourhood Plans’. These plans become part of the Local Area Plan (created by the local Borough/Unity Council) and the policies contained within them are then used in the determination of planning applications.
South Marston Parish Council chose to create their own Neighbourhood Plan to help shape the development of the village and surrounding area as authorised by the Swindon Local Plan. It allowed the community to create a picture of how they would wish the development to be done and although the expansion itself cannot be prevented, it will help to ensure the what is delivered is shaped by the South Marston Neighbourhood Plan.
How do you create a Neighbourhood Plan?
There are many stages in the delivery of a Neighbourhood Plan as once accepted, it becomes a legal document. Full details of the process can be seen here but the basics steps are:
- Development of the plan – plans are created by gathering a wide range of information and data about an area, understanding the issues facing an area and consulting with a wide range of groups and bodies. As an area with a Parish Council, they are responsible for creating the Neighbourhood Plan but do so by forming a working group with other non-Council members.
- Pre-submission consultation – where the draft Neighbourhood Plan is shared with residents and other bodies to allow them to make comments on it. Once the 6-week consultation period is up, comments received should be considered conscientiously and any decision whether to amend the neighbourhood plan recorded
- Submission – following any modifications, the draft neighbourhood plan proposal is submitted to the local planning authority. The local authority is responsible for checking that the submitted neighbourhood plan has followed the proper legal process.
- Independent examination – where the Neighbourhood Plan is reviewed and assessed to see whether it meets the meets the basic conditions and other requirements set out by law. Once passed, they return the Neighbourhood Plan to the local authority either with recommendations for improvement or with a straight pass.
- Referendum – once the Neighbourhood Plan has been passed (either with or without recommendations), the Local Authority will hold a referendum in which residents vote to if they would like the Local Authority to “use the Neighbourhood Plan to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area”. If more than 50% of residents say yes, then the plan passes.
- Delivery – once the plan has been brought into legal force, it forms part of the statutory Development Plan for that area. Consequently, decisions on whether to grant planning permission in the neighbourhood area will need to be made in accordance with the neighbourhood plan (as part of the statutory development plan), unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
Our Neighbourhood Plan
The South Marston Neighbourhood Plan can be viewed here and is supported the following documents: