Consultation Draft Statement of Community Involvement 2018

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4. Neighbourhood Plans and Neighbourhood Development Orders

4.1 Neighbourhood Plans, which were introduced by the Localism Act 2011, allow designated groups of local people to prepare statutory development plans for their community, against which planning applications will be assessed.

4.2Neighbourhood Plan Groups can grant planning permission through neighbourhood development orders and community right to build orders for specific development. They can set out planning policies in neighbourhood plans to guide the future development of an area, including identifying sites for new housing or safeguarding parks and playing fields.

4.3 Once a neighbourhood plan or order is approved it will be used to guide development and to help decide the outcome of planning applications in the area. The neighbourhood plan or order sits alongside other planning policy and needs to generally conform to local and national planning policy.

4.4 The statutory stages in the preparation and review / modification of these documents are set out in The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 (as amended). From 2018 there is an obligation for local authorities to reflect their policies for giving advice or assistance to neighbourhood planning groups and their policies involving communities and other interested parties in the preliminary stages of plan-making within their Statement of Community Involvement : This includes advising on the survey area and the matters which may be expected to affect the development of their area or the planning of its development (Section 13) and plan preparation, timing and process as required in Section 15 (Local Development Scheme).

4.5If a community wishes to simplify the process for allowing development a Neighbourhood Development Order (areas where specified development is permitted without the need to apply for planning permission) or a Community Right to Build Order (permission for small scale community led-schemes) can be implemented. These can be instead of, or in conjunction with, a neighbourhood plan and would result in effectively granting planning permission for certain types of development in specified areas. These orders, however, can't remove the need for other permissions such as Listed Building or Conservation Area consent.

4.6Since Neighbourhood Plans and Orders aren't prepared by the Council; this SCI can't prescribe what methods of community consultation they should follow. The Council will, however, expect these documents to follow wherever possible the general principles and techniques set out in this SCI.

4.7 Paragraph 48 of the Planning Practice Guidance states:

'A qualifying body must consult any of the consultation bodies whose interest it considers may be affected by the draft neighbourhood plan or Order proposal. The consultation bodies are set out in Schedule 1 to the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 (as amended). Other public bodies, landowners and the development industry should be involved in preparing a draft neighbourhood plan or Order. By doing this qualifying bodies will be better placed to produce plans that provide for sustainable development which benefits the local community whilst avoiding placing unrealistic pressures on the cost and deliverability of that development.'

4.8Paragraph 49 of the Planning Practice Guidance states:

'A qualifying body should be inclusive and open in the preparation of its neighbourhood plan or Order and ensure that the wider community:

  • is kept fully informed of what is being proposed
  • is able to make their views known throughout the process
  • has opportunities to be actively involved in shaping the emerging neighbourhood plan or Order
  • is made aware of how their views have informed the draft neighbourhood plan or Order.'

4.9 Notwithstanding the aforementioned consultation techniques applied by Neighbourhood Plan Groups the Council itself is required to consult with the public at various stages of the production of Neighbourhood Plans in line with the table shown below:

Neighbourhood Plan Stage

Consultation Duration

Consultation Methods

Neighbourhood Designation Consultation

Minimum of 6 weeks

Written / Email consultations with statutory consultees, general consultees on our database, other relevant stakeholders, individuals and organisations who have expressed a wish to be consulted or have previously made comments;
Consultation document available on the Council's website and hard copies available at the Council offices, and libraries, as appropriate, and;
Inviting representations on the document through press advertisements/articles and notice on the Council's website.

Neighbourhood Forum Designation Consultation

Minimum of 6 weeks

Submission Consultation and Publicity of a plan proposal

Minimum of 6 weeks

Table Four –Local Planning Authority held Neighbourhood Plan Consultations

What support do we offer to help prepare or review a neighbourhood plan?

4.10 As the local planning authority, Colchester Borough Council (CBC) has a duty to give advice and support to parish councils and neighbourhood plan groups to assist in the preparation of a neighbourhood plan / neighbourhood development order. This specific requirement was set out in a letter to local authorities from Steve Quartermain, Chief Planner at the now Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The letter sets out forthcoming changes to regulations in relation to neighbourhood planning and SCIs which will come into place this year.

4.11 The emerging regulations have received royal assent and will require local authorities to set out within the SCI policies for giving advice or assistance to neighbourhood planning groups and their policies involving communities and other interested parties in the preliminary stages of plan-making: including advising on the survey area and the matters which may be expected to affect the development of their area or the planning of its development (Section 13) and plan preparation, timing and process as required in Section 15 (Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004).

4.12 In line with the MHCLG letter the Council strongly supports neighbourhood planning and offer the following help throughout the process.

Statutory requirements at the time of Submission of the Neighbourhood Plan including:

  • Arranging and paying for the independent examination
  • Publicity and hosting of a webpage on the CBC website with information on it in relation to the Neighbourhood Plan examination;
  • Make key documents available for viewing in the areas that are affected by the Neighbourhood Plans for example at local libraries as appropriate; and
  • Organise an examination venue if required.
  • Organising and funding the referendum
  • Final Adoption Procedures to "Make" the Plan.

Further advice and guidance:

  • Advice and an introductory meeting to discuss your aims and outline the process;
  • Contact with a lead officer for your plan, who attends group meetings when appropriate and brings their own and other colleagues' professional experience to assist;
  • Advice on engaging with your community and the need to record engagement;
  • Advice on site appraisals and how to conduct site assessments;
  • Advice on the types of evidence needed to write your plan and whom to consult;
  • Review of your draft neighbourhood plan to ensure it meets the basic conditions;
  • Guidance and support in relation to seeking specialist expertise and appointing consultants, if appropriate.

Further guidance and advice

4.13 The Council is committed to facilitating the production of Neighbourhood Plans and is currently in the process of creating further documentation that will be available to all interested stakeholders. If you would like to find out more please contact planning.policy@colchester.gov.uk or visit the planning policy section of the Council's website.

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