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Neighbourhood planning is a Government initiative to empower communities to take a more proactive role in planning for their local area.

It allows local areas to come together to establish general planning policies for development and use of land in their neighbourhood, which then becomes part of the local development plan.

Neighbourhood plans already exist in some areas, usually called parish plans, but the Localism Act makes neighbourhood plans part of the legal framework.

Neighbourhood planning gives communities the power to:

Communities can choose to create any combination of the above. It is entirely up to them. In the case of neighbourhood development plans and orders, both must follow some ground rules:

  • they must generally be in line with local and national planning policies
  • they must be in line with other laws
  • if the local planning authority says that an area needs to grow, then communities cannot use neighbourhood planning to block the building of new homes and businesses; they can, however, use neighbourhood planning to influence the type, design, location and mix of new development
  • neighbourhood plans must contribute to achieving sustainable development

Neighbourhood planning was introduced through the Localism Act 2011. Neighbourhood planning legislation came into effect in April 2012.