Neighbourhood planning provides the opportunity for communities to shape the future of their local area by having a direct role in the development of local planning policies.

Neighbourhood planning gives communities the power to:

Within north Norfolk Neighbourhood Planning can be undertaken by Parish & Town Councils. North Norfolk District Council will provide guidance, technical support and assistance, and will guide communities through key stages and decisions.

Producing a Neighbourhood Plan allows the community to create a vision and planning policies for the use and development of land in a neighbourhood (for example to identify land where new homes and businesses can be built and what they should look like), and to address local issues where the Local Plan may not play a role.

Neighbourhood Plans can be specific to one issue or seek to address more complex matters depending on what has been identified as important to local people and what evidence there is to support a locally specific approach. They must however, be in general conformity with the strategic policies in the adopted Core Strategy, align with the emerging Local Plan, and meet certain ‘Basic Conditions’ as laid down by planning law. Neighbourhood Plans cannot be used as a tool to promote a lower level of development.

A significant amount of guidance and advice is already available for neighbourhood planning groups nationally through Government backed neighbourhood planning web sites such as Locality and professional planning bodies such as the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). In order to assist in identifying the most appropriate advice and to guide communities with each element of producing a Neighbourhood Plan, a number of specific local guidance notes and check sheets have been produced covering information gathering, conformity matters and process requirements. See the section below entitled ‘Advice and Guidance’.

Process for Preparing a Neighbourhood Plan

  • Defining the neighbourhood - The first step is to designate a Neighbourhood Area in which the Plan will apply.
  • Preparing the Plan - If approved, the town or parish council then starts preparing the Plan. They must engage the community and notify statutory consultees. This stage includes a six-week consultation period to publicise the proposals and consider responses. It should involve any affected landowners or tenants.
  • Independent examination - The draft Plan must then be submitted to the District Council who will formally publicise the proposal for six weeks consultation. An independent examiner will be appointed to consider any representations and check it conforms to local and national policy. Changes may be recommended.
  • Community referendum - Once satisfied with the Plan the District Council will organise a referendum. A majority of people voting must support the order.
  • Legal force - If supported the District Council will bring the Plan into force and publicise its decision.

Advice and Guidance

We strongly encourage parishes to seek early and continued advice from North Norfolk District Council in the development of Neighbourhood Plans.

We can help to:

  • ensure the approach and plan meets legal and other requirements
  • signpost to useful supporting evidence and advice
  • identify appropriate mapping
  • provide the required legislative screening opinion
  • identify appropriate consultation bodies
  • advise on effective policy wording of draft polices and advice on conformity and basic conditions tests
  • reduce uncertainty and risks of delay or failure at the examination and referendum stages

A number of local guidance notes and check sheets have been produced to assist Neighbourhood Planners. These are based around the frequent topics that Parish and Town Councils have sought to include in neighbourhood plans. If followed they will help to support Neighbourhood Planning groups through the process and promote their immediate and long term success.

National Policy and Guidance

This national guidance explains the neighbourhood planning system introduced through the Localism Act 2011, including key stages and considerations required.

The National Planning Policy Framework sets out government's planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied when preparing local and neighbourhood plans.

Other Guidance

A variety of guidance on Neighbourhood Planning has been prepared by external organisations. We have included links to many useful guides within our guidance document NPG1: Useful Links and Resources.