Neighbourhood Planning

These are frequently asked questions for neighbourhood planning.

We have separated these questions out into three categories:

  • Grants and Technical Support
  • Application process
  • The neighbourhood planning process.

Grants and Technical Support

When does the technical support and grant funding close?

The closing dates for grants and technical support are as follows:

Grant funding

2015-2018 grant applications are now closed. 2018-2022 programme grant support will open no later than 1 April 2018.

Expenditure through a grant must be completed within six months or before 31 March 2018, whichever falls sooner.

Technical support

All Expressions of Interest for Technical Support must be completed by 1 March 2018.

Applications for Technical Support must be received by 5 March 2018.

All decisions on Technical Support applications will be made and applicants informed by 31 March 2018.

Download: Technical Support Guidance Notes

Which neighbourhood planning groups are eligible for additional support?

The parameters for complex groups are summarised below – you must meet one or more of these criteria to be classed as a complex group.

  • Neighbourhood Forums (i.e. where there is no Town or Parish Council) 
  • All groups writing a Business led Neighbourhood Plan  
  • All groups preparing a Neighbourhood Development Order, either within their Neighbourhood Development Plan or stand alone  
  • All groups situated in high growth areas – this generally means where you expect more than 500 additional homes to be required, or where the neighbourhood plan will propose a higher allocation of new housing than is required in your local development plan  
  • Neighbourhood areas which show a high level of deprivation and include communities which rank in the top 20% in the index of multiple deprivation  
  • All groups preparing a plan for a cluster of three or more parish councils  
  • Neighbourhood areas which have a population of over 25,000 people  
  • Neighbourhood areas with a highly diverse community 
  • Neighbourhood areas which have a highly transient community
  • Groups preparing a neighbourhood development order
  • Groups undertaking a site assessment for site allocation
  • Groups allocating sites for housing or mixed development.

If you are a complex group, once you have drawn down the basic grant of £9,000, you will be eligible to apply for further funding of £6,000 giving a total amount of £15,000. The process for applying for this additional funding is exactly the same and completing the Expression of Interest form will determine whether you are considered ‘complex’.

However, the decision to award the additional grant may be subject to approval by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The application process

My application link has expired. What do I do?

Your link to the application form will stay live for 30 days, during which time you can revisit it at any time.

It will automatically save the information you have entered provided that you have clicked the ‘next’ button on the relevant page. Once you have pressed the submit button on the final page you will not be able to make any further change or submit your form again.

After 30 days, your link will expire and your application will be lost.

Saving your application in the blank Word application forms

We recommend that you complete your application using the blank application forms in Word to record your answers for inputting into the electronic application form.

Find the blank application forms here.

Get a new application link

To get a new application link, you need to complete the Expression of Interest form again.

This is why we recommend that you save your application in the blank application forms to ensure you have your answers stored safely.

If you have lost your application and have not used the blank Word application form to save your answers, please email


I’m ready to apply for another grant, what do I do?

If you have received a grant from us before, you must have completed the end of grant reporting before making a new application.

If you have any questions about this, please contact your grant administrator at

I’ve completed the Expression of Interest form, but haven’t received an application link via email?

Once you have completed and submitted the expression of interest form, this will automatically generate an application form overnight to your nominated email address.

If this doesn’t arrive in your email inbox within 12 hours, first try searching your inbox for an email from

Secondly, check your junk and spam folders – these are usually folders stored in or under your Inbox folder.

Thirdly, try adding to your ‘safe’ or ‘whitelist’ senders list in your email settings so the email can pass through your spam filter or junk folder (here’s how to do that in Outlook 2013).

If none of these options work, please complete another Eligibility Criteria form, ensuring that your email address is correct and trying with an alternative email address (such as a Gmail or Yahoo account). Some email addresses, such as, tend to automatically filter out unknown addresses.

If you still have not received it after completing two different email addresses and adding the email to the safe senders list, please contact the My Community Help Centre.

My Community Help Centre

I have a question about my grant payments or end of grant report...

The Neighbourhood Planning Grants and Technical Support funding payments are administered by Groundwork UK.

If you have a question about your grant payment or end of grant report, please contact Groundwork directly, by email

The neighbourhood planning process

What is a neighbourhood development order?

Neighbourhood Development Orders (NDOs) grant planning permission for specific development in a particular area.

This could include things like specified changes of use, certain kinds of alteration or the reinstatement of historical features. An NDO could be used to grant outline planning permission for specified uses on allocated sites, such as housing, commercial uses or recreational uses. So far there has been limited use of NDOs. However they have real potential, especially when carried out in parallel to the preparation of a neighbourhood plan. For example, if a neighbourhood plan allocated sites for employment uses, an NDO could be used to grant permission for those uses and to provide a greater level of certainty to developers over the infrastructure and other requirements associated with developing the sites.

Read more about Neighbourhood Development Orders

What is a Community Right to Build Order?

A Community Right to Build Order (CRtBO) is one kind of NDO which can grant planning permission for small-scale community-led developments.

These could include things like housing, community centres, business and enterprise hubs or community energy schemes. The disposal of assets granted under a CRtBO must be used for the benefit of the community. Thus, in addition to granting planning permission, a CRtBO ensures that any proceeds can only be used for the benefit of the wider community. In addition, a CRtBO can remove enfranchisement rights. This means that those renting property can be prevented from purchasing it, ensuring that it continues to be available for rental.

Read more about Community Right to Build Orders

How do I find out my area’s deprivation score?

The Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) show levels of deprivation across England. Geographical areas are ranked and scored across a whole range of indicators.
To determine your Neighbourhood Area IMD score please enter your postcode into the search box on the Deprivation Mapper website.

How do I find out if my area is a ‘high growth area’?

To find out if your Neighbourhood Plan is looking to allocate high growth you will firstly need to find out whether your local authority has an up to date Local Plan, and what it says about the expected housing allocation for your community.

A Local Plan is the name for the collection of documents prepared by your Local Planning Authority for the future development of the local area. You can find out if your local planning authority has an up to date adopted local plan by speaking to them directly. You can find out contact details for them on the Planning Portal here.

If the local authority does have an adopted Local Plan it will allocate a certain number of houses for your local area, if you intend to allocate MORE than this, then your Neighbourhood Plan is one of high growth. You will also be eligible if the Local Plan allocates more than 500 new homes to your area.

If the local authority doesn’t have an up to date Local Plan then you will need to speak to the local authority about the emerging local plan or up-to-date housing needs survey. You can use this information to establish if you plan to allocate housing that is in excess of the estimated need for the neighbourhood area. The local authority duty planning officer should be able to answer these questions or direct you to someone in Planning Policy who can help.

How much does it cost to produce a neighbourhood plan?

A plan will cost as much or as little as you want it to – it depends on your ambitions for its scope, its evidence base, the nature of your public engagement and the standard and style of production. The cost of the referendum and the independent examiner are met by the local planning authority.

The Total Spend case studies detail how several neighbourhood plans were funded and cost:

How much weight does a neighbourhood plan carry before it is made?

Planning applications are decided in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. An emerging neighbourhood plan may be a material consideration. Paragraph 216 of the National Planning Policy Framework sets out the weight that may be given to relevant policies in emerging plans in decision taking. Factors that are considered are:

  • The stage of preparation of the emerging plan (the more advanced the preparation, the greater the weight that may be given)
  • The extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies (the less significant the unresolved objections, the greater the weight that may be given)
  • The degree of consistency of the relevant policies in the emerging plan to the policies in this Framework (the National Planning Policy Framework) (the closer the policies in the emerging plan to the policies in the Framework, the greater the weight that may be given).

Whilst a referendum ensures that the community has the final say on whether the neighbourhood plan comes into force, decision makers should respect evidence of local support prior to the referendum when seeking to apply weight to an emerging neighbourhood plan.

The consultation statement submitted with the draft neighbourhood plan should reveal the quality and effectiveness of the consultation that has informed the plan proposals. And all representations on the proposals should have been submitted to the local planning authority by the close of the local planning authority’s publicity period. It is for the decision maker in each case to determine what is a material consideration and what weight to give to it.

The Planning Practice Guidance contains more information on weight to be attributed to neighbourhood plans.

The proposed powers contained in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill will require councils to ‘have regard to a post-examination neighbourhood development plan’ when dealing with planning applications. The inclusion of this within the Bill will reinforce the importance of post-examination plans by specifically stating that they have weight.

Can a made neighbourhood plan be updated?

In May 2016 the Government added a section to the neighbourhood planning area of the Planning Practice Guidance specifically on updating a made neighbourhood plan. You can access this by clicking here.

Currently, to update a made neighbourhood plan it is necessary to go through the same process as done for making the original neighbourhood plan, including pre-submission consultation, submission to local authority, independent examination and referendum. If you are not changing the neighbourhood area, then it is not necessary to repeat the area designation stage. If the neighbourhood forum has expired (after 5 years), it will be necessary to reapply for designation.

Depending on the extent of policies from the existing plan that are carried forward into the replacement plan, the examination may be a simpler process than that undergone for the examination of the existing plan. However, groups preparing the plan will still need to ensure that all plan policies are supported by appropriate evidence.

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill is seeking to put regulations in place to help speed up and streamline the process for updating made neighbourhood plans where the proposed updates are not so significant that they change the nature of the plan itself. Certain aspects of this updated process were consulted upon in the Technical consultation on implementation of neighbourhood planning provisions in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill consultation document. The Government will work through the responses to this consultation and then seek to finalise the updated process.