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What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

Thanks to Localism Act 2011, local communities are now able to create their own Neighbourhood Plan for the future development of their area. Once the plan has been brought into legal force it will then be used to determine planning applications and guide planning decisions in the area.

The Neighbourhood Forum and the area that it covers must first be approved by the local planning authority. Once they are approved they can write a Neighbourhood Plan for their area.

A Neighborhood Plan doesn’t replace the Local Plan. It supports and supplements the Local Plan. So for example, the Horsham District Local Plan covers the whole of the Horsham District but there are several Neighbourhood Plans, which add additional planning policies for small areas within the Horsham District.

Once a draft version of a Neighbourhood Plan has been written, it is published for a public consultation. The consultation enables people to make comments, known as representations, on the draft plan. The Neighbourhood Forum considers the representations and makes amendments to the plan. They then publish the finalised version of the plan for another public consultation.

The finalised plan and the representations from the consultation are then reviewed by an independent examiner, who is appointed by the local planning authority. The examiner checks whether certain prescribed conditions have been met and produces a report on the plan. The local planning authority then uses this report to decide whether the Neighbourhood Plan can proceed to a referendum and if so whether it requires any modifications.

In the referendum, the residents and businesses in the Neighbourhood Area are permitted to vote. If the Neighbourhood Plan wins more than 50% of the vote it then comes into legal force.