There are 5 main stages involved in the neighbourhood planning process.
- Stage 1: Agree the Area to be covered by the plan.
- Stage 2: Prepare the Neighbourhood Plan
- Stage 3: Independent check
- Stage 4: Community referendum
- Stage 5: Legal adoption of the Neighbourhood Plan
The first step for town councils wishing to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan is to submit their proposed neighbourhood area to the local planning authority for designation.
This stage is where the main bulk of the work takes place. The key steps are
- Identify the issues to address in the Neighbourhood Plan. What changes would improve your community way of life?
- Develop a vision and objectives. Clarify what the Neighbourhood Plan is aiming to achieve.
- Generate options for the draft Neighbourhood Plan. What different types of development or ways of using land would benefit the community?
- Prepare the draft Neighbourhood Plan. Decide on the detail and bringing the plan together.
- Consultation and submission. Consult the public and respond appropriately.
Once a neighbourhood plan or order has been prepared, an independent examiner will check that it meets the right basic standards. The Localism Act includes a “basic condition” that Neighbourhood Plans have to be in general conformity with strategic policies such as those contained in the Core Strategy and national planning guidance. The examiner can recommend changes. The planning authority will then need to consider the examiner’s views and decide whether to make those changes.
Milton Keynes council will organise a referendum on any plan or order that meets the basic standards and has been approved by the independent examiner. This ensures that the community has the final say on when a neighbourhood plan or order comes into force. If more than 50 per cent of people voting in the referendum support the plan or order, then the local planning authority must bring it into force.
Once a neighbourhood plan has been approved in a referendum, it carries real legal weight. It will become part of the development plan, and decision-makers will be obliged, by law, to take what it says into account when they consider proposals for development in the area.