What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
As a result of changes to government legislation local communities are being given an unprecedented opportunity to influence how their area develops. If you care about the future of Newton and Noss you must become involved.
This section of the website deals with:
- Planning Legislation
- The History of N3P to date
- The process of compiling a Neighbourhood Plan
- What a Neighbourhood Plan may and may not cover
We are starting here because understanding the legislation is the key to understanding just why N3P is so important.
The Localism Act (2012) which brought in some really quite fundamental changes to the planning system for England and Wales, was born of a desire to boost the building trade in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. However undoubtedly the most far reaching consequence of the Act from our perspective is that for the first time it enabled local people to dictate much of the detail concerning the way their communities would be developed.
In some instances the Act has dictated whether a community would be developed at all.
…and on other occasions it has instigated quite major enhancements to communities.
There is also a somewhat obscure bit of legislation called the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act (2004) and this is important because it says…
It is obscure because it is very hazy about what ”the plan” actually is. This may be because before the Localism Act came along there were literally thousands of plans all stacked up in a hierarchy that looked something like this.
What the Localism Act did most importantly was to change and simplify the hierarchy to look something like this.
Note that the Regional Spatial Strategies at County level have all been swept away and replaced in the hierarchy by our Neighbourhood Plan. Our Plan will therefore form a significant part of the new baseline against which all planning decisions will have to be made in future by decision takers at every level in government. For those communities that opt not to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan there is an obvious gap in planning policy and in such cases, according to the National Planning Policy Framework, there will be “a presumption in favour of development”.
Documentation at both central and local government level is being drastically reduced. For instance Planning Policy Statements which ran to over 1000 pages have been replaced by a single document of 65 pages THE NATIONAL PLANNING POLICY FRAMEWORK And, of this, a mere three paragraphs are exclusively devoted to giving guidance on the construction of a Neighbourhood Plan. It will serve those working on N3P well to have a passing familiarity with this document.
The legislation allows communities to require developers to fund public infrastructure (roads, public spaces, schools, medical centres) through a mechanism known as ‘planning gain’.
History of N3P
The Localism Act requires Neighbourhood Plans to be sponsored by a parish council. Accordingly in 2014 the River Yealm and District Association (RYDA) – the residents’ association – undertook a scoping study for Newton and Noss Parish Council.
The purpose was to investigate the relevance of a Neighbourhood Plan to our community and to recommend how such a plan might be implemented. The Study was endorsed by the Parish Council in May 2014 and registered by them with the District Council.
As a result, amongst the points that were agreed, the following are of some significance:
The aim of N3P: “To contribute neighbourhood development policy to the South Hams District Council Local Plan (2015) that will ensure that the people of Newton and Noss will live in the community of their choice in the year 2030.”
The Neighbourhood Area: The “whole Parish” – to include Newton Ferrers, Noss Mayo, Collaton, Membland, Pool Mill, Stoke, Preston, Creacombe and Brownstone.
Plan duration: 15 years including 5 year reviews
Plan organisation and management: A three tier committee structure has been put in place and a process based on public consultation at every stage has been formulated and agreed.
A number of public consultation meetings have since been held. The purpose of these has been to obtain a spectrum of views on the issues that should be addressed by N3P. The intention is to augment the data with ongoing public input via this website and the ‘Ideas Bucket’ in order to provide tasking to the appropriate working groups.
All Neighbourhood Plans have to undergo external scrutiny before they are then included in their District ‘Local Plan’. They then become statutory documents to be used by all decision takers within government departments when adjudicating planning applications. Together with these obligatory activities we are following a five stage process based on that recommended nationally by the Campaign to Protect of Rural England (CPRE). Those stages are as follows:
Initial Preparation Phase
This activity is represented by the N3P Scoping Study (see above), by the identification of the issues that are germane and the development of a vision and objectives. The scope of a Neighbourhood Plan may vary widely from a single issue project on a specific subject such as the route of a new by-pass to a far reaching study covering any activities associated with the planning process.
In N3P we intend to undertake a housing needs survey and a topographic survey (to identify suitable development sites). We will make use of public questionnaires to both establish statistical evidence of the current situation (along with data from the national census) and to identify future trends and needs.
Plan, Research and Drafting
A series of discussion papers will be produced by the Working Groups. Content will be de-conflicted by the Co-ordinating Committee and then published publicly for comment. It is anticipated that discussion papers will go through two draft stages before agreement. At each stage they will be scrutinised for feasibility, sustainability and conformance with the Local Plan. They will then go to the Steering Group for approval.
Once all discussion papers are approved they will then be incorporated into the final Plan by the Co-ordinating Committee for approval by the Steering Group. The Committee comprises the leaders of each of the Working Groups under a Chairman. The Steering Group includes representation from Newton and Noss Parish Council.
Consultation and Submission
This obligatory step in the process is carried out once N3P drafting is completed. It is necessary to seek approval from a number of statutory consultees. These include, but are not limited to Devon County Council, the Environment Agency, English Heritage, Natural England and the Yealm Estuary Management Group.
In addition neighbouring parish councils and large land owners such as the Duchy of Cornwall are to be consulted. Finally the Plan is then submitted to South Hams District Council who will check that it has undergone the necessary consultation and that it conforms with their planning policy. At this stage those who live, work or run businesses in the Parish will be given one final chance to comment.
An independent examiner will be appointed by South Hams District Council (SHDC) who has to be approved by ourselves. He is responsible for ensuring that N3P meets European obligations, has regard to national planning policies, is in general conformance with the strategic policies of the SHDC Local Plan, is compatible with adjoining Neighbourhood Plans and contributes to the achievement of sustainable development.
The most significant of these is likely to be the SHDC Local Plan. (The Dawlish Neighbourhood Plan was rejected on the grounds that Teignbridge District Council Local Plan was insufficiently mature to allow the compatibility test to be undertaken.) For this reason we are establishing close working relations with the SHDC Local Plan team (called ‘Our Plan’) and will be tracking their progress carefully.
Referendum and Adoption
Finally the Independent Examiner will supervise a referendum organised and paid for by SHDC. All those registered to vote within Newton and Noss Parish are eligible to take part. A simple Yes/No vote is involved and our Neighbourhood Plan will pass into law provided over 50% of those who cast a vote are in favour of it doing so.
Once N3P has been adopted planning applications will still be determined by SHDC in the normal way, but taking into account the policies stated in N3P. Similarly planning appeals by the Planning Inspectorate will be decided in accordance with our policies.
What Can a Neighbourhood Plan Do?
- Develop distinctive local policies about the use and development of land and deal with a range of social, economic and environmental issues associated with the planning process.
- Decide where and what type of development should happen in the neighbourhood. This may be the style, location or size/use of development. This could apply to either:
– Development mandated by the Local Plan or
– Additional community sponsored development
- Unlike a Village Plan, a Neighbourhood Plan is restricted to issues associated with the planning process.
- It also differs in that it is an enabling document and all future enhancement/development proposals will therefore be accompanied by a feasibility study.
- A Neighbourhood Plan cannot stop development that has been mandated by SHDC.
- N3P has limited impact on matters associated with highways.
- All proposals must contribute to sustainable development. Important though it is, this is not limited to environmental sustainability. The NPPF states that: “There are three dimensions to sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.”
- Our Neighbourhood Plan must conform to the SHDC Local Plan. In view of the fact that there are no less than 57 small village communities within the South Hams area, this is to be a relatively high level document offering general direction only.
- Dawlish Neighbourhood Plan was rejected as their local District Council (Teignbridge) did not have a current planning policy document against which their Examiner could assess compliance.