What is neighbourhood planning?

A successful neighbourhood plan must be based on evidence and an understanding of the place they relate to. Communities need to gather a range of evidence and local knowledge before writing their plan. We have collated a selection of evidence, which may be useful to communities in starting to shape their evidence base.

 Click here to view your individual local authority neighbourhood planning page 

Are you interested in shaping your local area?  Do you want to help decide where new homes, shops and other facilities should go and what they could look like?

Getting involved in neighbourhood planning can be very rewarding and there is a range of help and assistance available to you. 

The Localism Act, which received Royal Assent on November 15 2011, introduced new rights and powers to allow local communities to shape new development by coming together to prepare neighbourhood plans.

Neighbourhood Planning can be taken forward by two types of body, town or parish councils, and ‘neighbourhood forums’ for areas without parishes.

Local authorities will continue to produce Local Plans (or Core Strategies) to set the strategic context within which neighbourhood plans will sit, however neighbourhood plans can contain detailed policies to guide local authority decisions about planning applications.

There is a process which must be followed before a neighbourhood plan can be put to a community referendum and legally come into force.  Moreover, it must take account of national planning policy and it must align with strategic policies in the Local Plan or Core Strategy.

The basic stages in developing a neighbourhood plan are:
1.    Set up a neighbourhood planning group and have the plan area designated
2.    Collect evidence about your area and gather local views about priority issues
3.    Identify which issues you want to produce policies for
4.    Write a draft neighbourhood plan for your area
5.    Formally consult local residents and other interested parties with the draft
6.    Submit a final version of the plan to your local authority for its examination and then a referendum

First Steps…

In the first instance, contact your local authority’s Strategic Planning team.  They will be able to provide you with information about the requirements for putting your plan together.  They can also help you to understand all of the development and planning issues that may affect your plan.

The plan must be based on a robust evidence base which has considered a broad range of social, economic and environmental data and information, to ensure that it is sound and is accepted at examination.

A wide range of evidence may already be available for you to consider, for example: 

•    The evidence base that your local authority produced for its Local Plan or Core Strategy.
•    Previous work you have done for a Parish or Town Plan
•    SHLAA (Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment) from the local authority
•    Information on listed buildings from English Heritage
•    Information on rivers and flood risk from the Environment Agency
•    Where you are in a National Park or an AONB, plans and information for those areas (note that National Park Authorities produce their own Local Plans)
•    Environmental Management Plans

You may wish to conduct a survey of local residents to gather their views about issues and priorities.  Some communities may also wish to undertake a local housing needs assessment, to identify what types of homes are needed and demand for affordable housing.

How can we help at the Rural Services Network? 

We have put together a selection of data which can be used to set the context for your local parish/community.

Please note, that any plan will need to gather a wide range of evidence and this is just a selection of key facts and figures available at ward and parish level as a starting point for the plan.

 Click here to view your individual local authority neighbourhood planning page 

There are a number of websites and organisations who can provide you with assistance in this process and point you towards funding possibilities to support you on your journey:


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