Love thy neighbour
Neighbourhood Planning takes off
It has been three years since the Localism Act introduced legislation to allow community groups to prepare their own plans with statutory powers. The take up of ‘neighbourhood plans’ was initially slow, but is now increasing. Over 1,000 neighbourhood plans are currently in preparation nationwide. Those adopted are now into double figures. In Hampshire alone there are currently over 30 plans in preparation throughout 9 local authorities.
The decision of some Parish Councils to engage in the neighbourhood planning process may have been influenced by the Tattenhall judgement in Cheshire where the Local Planning Authority successfully fought off two judicial reviews from major house builders against very modest residential allocations put forward in the draft neighbourhood plan.
Even where neighbourhood plans are not being pursued, many Parish Councils have started to adopt the principles of Localism when considering potential sites for development. Competing developers are now routinely being encouraged to present their sites at public consultation events to gauge public opinion before sites are shortlisted.
The enthusiastic adoption of the Localism agenda by many communities has therefore required landowners, developers and consultants to improve the way in which they interact with local stakeholders. The successful presentation and communication of development proposals is key to successful neighbourhood planning. In particular, the use of plans and images to ‘tell a story’ in support of a scheme and express complex issues quickly and clearly is important especially when dealing with those who are not involved in the development industry.
Whilst involvement in the neighbourhood planning process is not necessary or advisable in all circumstances, in some instances it may be appropriate groundwork before the submission of a planning application, especially on sites where there is currently no clear ‘presumption in favour of development’.
Pro Vision is currently actively engaged in a number of neighbourhood planning exercises on behalf of clients pursuing residential and mixed use developments.