Impact of Neighbourhood Planning "mixed" says report

A new report has identified a mixed impact of Neighbourhood Planning since the concept's introduction as part of the Government's Localism drive in the last Parliament. It also charts a significant recent rise in new housing in Neighbourhood Planning areas.

Planning consultancy Nataniel Lichfield and Partners (NLP) has surveyed the extent of Neighbourhood Planning and its impact thus far. While there are over 1,800 designated Neighbourhood Planning areas in the country, only 160 of these have fully completed and adopted a Neighbourhood Plan. About 60% of these are in place in areas where the local council's Local Plan is out of date.

An interesting finding in the report is that the current Secretary of State, Greg Clark, has use his reserved recovery powers to approve many more planning applications for new housing in Neighbourhood Planning areas than his predecessor, Eric Pickles. Since the election of 2015, Clark has approved applications to build 2,530 new homes in Neighbourhood Planning areas, while turning down applications for a total of 545 dwellings due to conflict with a Neighbourhood Plan. By comparison, Eric Pickles, in the period between the introduction of recovery powers and the General Election, approved 316 dwellings and turned down 1,348.

The NLP report, entitled Neighbourhood Plans: In Theory, In Practice, In The Future, points out that Neighbourhood Plans were intended to operate within the framework set by the wider Local Plan. However, as so many local authority areas are yet to produce an up to date Local Plan, in some cases Neighbourhood Plans are operating in a policy vacuum - the report even posits the possibility that this could lead to Local Plans being shaped more by Neighbourhood Plans than the other way around.

In part because of this, the report makes a number of recommendations to reform the Neighbourhood Plan system, including a minimum turnout requirement in the referenda that are used to adopt Neighbourhood Plans.

The report concludes that the impact of Neighbourhood Planning has so far been mixed, with in many cases the positive impacts on shaping local planning to suit local needs having taken place. However, it adds that "too often the process has been used as a tool to prevent or frustrate much needed development or cause unintended confusion", particularly in areas where no Local Plan has been adopted.

You can download the full report from the attachments below, or visit the NLP website.

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File NP Theory Practice Future report July 2016.pdf4.58 MB