Updated Neighbourhood Planning Regulations – a summary

Posted on the 24th October 2016

New regulations for neighbourhood planning came into force on 1 October 2016. We have put together our summary of the changes:

  • Timeframes on designating neighbourhood areas: Local planning authorities (LPAs) must designate all of the neighbourhood area applied for, with no discretion to amend the boundary when: a parish council applies for all of the parish area to be designated, or applies to enlarge an existing designation of part of the parish to include all of the parish; or when an LPA has not decided on an area designation within the established timeframes. (Exception: if any of the area has already been designated (other than where a parish want to enlarge an existing designated area), or if there was an outstanding application for designation)
  • Designation of neighbourhood forums: LPAs must make a decision on a forum designation application within 13 weeks, or 20 weeks when the application must be submitted to more than one LPA. (Exception: when more than one application has been made in the same or overlapping areas)
  • Consideration by an LPA of the recommendations made by an independent examiner: LPAs must decide whether a referendum should be held within five weeks of the date it receives the examiner’s report. (Exceptions: LPA proposes to make a decision which differs from examiners recommendations; or LPA and neighbourhood planning group agree that more time is required)
  • Notifications where the decision differs from that recommended by the examiner: The following groups need to be notified and consulted where LPAs decision differs from that of the examiner: the NP group; anyone who made representations during the period the plan was publicised by the local authority; and the statutory bodies (i.e. Natural England, Historic England and the Environment Agency)
  • Consultation period for further representations: Further representations should be made within six weeks. LPA should issue its final decision within five weeks of the end of that period (unless it refers the issue to independent examination)
  • Setting the referendum date: LPA must hold a referendum within 56 working days of the decision that a referendum should be held, or 84 working days when:  there is also a business referendum; the area falls within more than one LPA; the LPA is not the “principal authority” responsible for arranging the referendum. (Exceptions: the referendum can be combined with another poll that is due to be held within three months of the end of the 56 or 84 working day period; there are unresolved legal challenges on the decision to hold a referendum; the LPA and the NP group agree an alternative time frame)
  • Bringing neighbourhood plans into force: LPAs must ‘make’ the neighbourhood plan within eight weeks of the date of the referendum. (Exception: there are unresolved legal challenges to the decision to hold a referendum or on the conduct of a referendum)
  • Requests for the Secretary of State to intervene: The Housing and Planning Act 2016 enables the Secretary of State to intervene at the request of a neighbourhood planning group when: the LPA has failed to take a decision on whether to proceed to referendum within the specified timeframes; or does not accept the examiner’s recommendations/proposes to modify the plan/Order in a way the examiner didn’t recommend. The updated Regulations provide further detail on this process. This includes setting out that the NP group must make their request for intervention in writing. Groups will have six weeks from the date the LPA publish their decision to submit their request
  • Engagement in local planning: Neighbourhood forums will be classified as consultation bodies that local planning authorities must notify and invite representations from where they consider the forum may have an interest in the preparation of a Local Plan
  • Consulting on planning applications: LPAs will be required to notify neighbourhood forums of any planning applications within their designated neighbourhood area if requested by the forum.

Locality also commented on the implementation of neighbourhood planning provisions in the neighbourhood planning bill. You can read our full submission here.

Consultation NP

Image: Carole Reilly, Head of Neighbourhoods and Housing at Locality, giving evidence to the Neighbourhood Planning scrutiny committee on Tuesday 18 October.

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