Skip to main content

Neighbourhood Plan Review: Plans Made in September 2019

This post explores Neighbourhood Plans which successfully passed referendum in September 2019, highlighting elements which make each plan locally specific and unique. The following Neighbourhood Plans passed referendum in September 2019:
You can find these and other made Neighbourhood Plans on the Interactive Map and Neighbourhood Plan Finder.

Whilst no two Neighbourhood Plans (hereafter 'NP's) are exactly alike, many share similar characteristics and address common themes. For example, almost all of September's plans use Local Green Space designation to protect open spaces of importance to the community.

Growing towns

Most of September's plans apply to rural parishes and villages. However, September saw the market towns of Bawtry and Huntingdon gain Neighbourhood Plans.

Cover image Bawtry Neighbourhood PlanThe Bawtry NP aims to improve the town centre's 'public realm' i.e. the built environment in publicly accessible areas, such as streets and town centres. Specifically, the 'Market Hill' area is flagged for improvement.

The detailed design policy sets requirements for development in the town centre. Development proposals must enhance the character and appearance of the historic town centre, and should minimise clutter from street furniture, lighting and litter bins, etc. The shopfronts policy will ensure shopping streets remain attractive, whilst providing security.

A site is allocated for redevelopment to provide a mix of uses suited to a town centre location, and includes an element of housing development.

The plan includes numerous measures to reduce traffic in the town centre, accompanied by a list of actions for the town council to deliver.

Cover image of Huntingdon Neighbourhood PlanHuntingdon's Neighbourhood Plan promotes the town as a place of great potential for business investment, aiming to boost opportunities for employment in the town. The plan's first policy encourages employment development and regeneration. Retail development, tourism and leisure development are also favoured, particularly where this contributes to the town's night-time economy.

Similarly to the Bawtry plan, the Huntingdon NP requires development proposals to provide high quality streets, pavements and other publicly accessible areas. Some particular problem areas requiring investment are identified.

A diverse range of community assets and facilities are identified for special protection - from community centres, neighbourhood shops and sports facilities, to the library, museum and cinema.

Community projects

Cover image of Tarvin Neighbourhood Plan
The Tarvin NP has a clear focus on improving facilities for the wider community, and identifies a number of community projects. The plan allocates a 'leisure site' to provide new recreational facilities, identifies new footpath and cycle routes, proposes a project to extend community woodland, allocates a site to provide off-street parking, and safeguards a site for development of additional health care facilities. The plan includes a commitment to spend money raised from new development (i.e. CIL funds) to fund the projects identified in the plan.

Cover image of West Bergholt Neighbourhood Plan
Likewise, each policy in the West Bergholt NP is accompanied by a list of 'community ambitions' - community projects to be delivered by the parish council, or other organisations. The community ambitions likely outnumber the planning policies; the West Bergholt NP therefore goes beyond a mere planning document, providing a comprehensive plan for the community.

Affordable housing

Cover image of Moreton, Bobbingworth and the Lavers Neighbourhood Plan
The Moreton, Bobbingworth and the Lavers NP requires affordable housing to be of a type and tenure that reflects the latest available local affordable housing needs survey. In Sedgeford, Norfolk, a housing association carried out a local housing needs survey and identified a need for 5 additional affordable homes. The Sedgeford NP seeks to deliver this requirement through a policy for rural exception sites for affordable housing.

Cover image of Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan
Similarly, the Sid Valley NP encourages the development of rural exception sites, which allow affordable homes to be built in countryside locations, on sites which would otherwise be unsuitable for the development of open market homes, let to households with a connection to the local area. The plan also sets out the amount of affordable housing which developers are required to provide on large housing sites, and stipulates a 'tenure split' - the proportion of the affordable homes which should be let as social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership.

Smaller sites of 6 - 9 homes will also contribute to the delivery of affordable housing by making a financial contribution.

Cover image of Congresbury Neighbourhood Plan
The Congresbury Neighbourhood Plan sets an affordable housing requirement of 30% on large sites. It is not common to see such a requirement in a Neighbourhood Plan, as typically such requirements are set through strategic policies of the Local Plans.

The Weobley Neighbourhood Plan prioritises the allocation of affordable housing to households with a local connection to the parish.

Mix and type of housing

Cover image of Thurston Neighbourhood Plan
The Thurston NP encourages development proposals which meet differing housing needs such as first time buyers, housing for older people, and specialist care accommodation.

To ensure new homes meet the needs of local people, the Sid Valley NP specifies the mix of houses sizes which development proposals should provide (i.e. the percentage of 1-bed, 2-bed, 3-bed and 4-bed homes).

Cover image of Sedgefield Neighbourhood Plan
The Sedgefield NP requires at least 10% of new housing to be 'older people's housing', providing level access flats, bungalows and sheltered accommodation and extra care schemes.

The Glentworth NP encourages proposals for housing to be accessible and adaptable, meeting the higher access standards in accordance with Building Regulations Part M4(2).

Second Homes

Due to its proximity to the coast, the Sedgeford NP includes a policy to prevent the development of new homes as 'second homes'. All new development must be the principal residence of the occupants.

Health and Wellbeing

Cover image of Brackenfield Neighbourhood PlanThe Brackenfield Neighbourhood Plan includes a chapter devoted to Health and Wellbeing - an issue I believe should be at the heart of all Neighbourhood Plans. The plan recognises the broad ways planning issues affect health and wellbeing, and seeks to protect and enhance community facilities, improve road safety, and support and protect footpaths and bridleways.

Development Sites

The following plans make site allocations for housing development: Congresbury NP, Hullavington NP, Misterton NP, Sedgeford NP, Weobley NP, West Bergholt NP, and Withington NP.

Cover image of Hullavington Neighbourhood Plan
Notably, the Hullavington NP makes a site allocation for 70 homes, the West Bergholt NP includes two sites to deliver a minimum of 120 new homes, and Hanslope NP makes three site allocations for approximately 157 homes.

The Congresbury NP makes five site allocations, of which, one site is exclusively for the development of affordable homes for local people. The Withington NP allocates a site for an 'age-restricted' development to meet the needs of older people.

Sedgeford gained agreement from Kings Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council to make site allocations through the Neighbourhood Plan, rather than the Local Plan process.

Employment and other uses

Cover image of Misterton Neighbourhood Plan
September's plans are generally favourable toward employment development. The Misterton NP takes an especially flexible approach to development at an existing business park, encouraging a wide range of uses, including retail, food establishments, leisure and some residential accommodation, and particularly favours proposals which support tourism.

Landscape and views

Protecting landscapes and important views are common themes for Neighbourhood Plans. However, September's plans saw some plans approach this issue in innovative ways.

The Misterton NP's Steering Group gathered evidence and carried out their own assessment of the parish's character. Based on this research, the plan divides the built areas of the parish into seven distinct character areas, requiring development proposals to respond to local character, for example by using vernacular styles and materials.

Cover image of Withington Group Neighbourhood Plan
The Withington Group NP provides protection of views and vistas of the landscape. The location of important views are clearly indicated on map. Photos are used effectively along with supplementary information and maps, in order to protect views to landmarks up to 20km away.

Historic Environment

Cover of Sedgeford Neighbourhood Plan
The Sedgeford NP identifies a specific area within the parish for protection due to its potential archaeological significance.

The Glentworth NP identifies and grants protection to non-designated heritage assets, for example buildings which are of local importance but are not 'listed buildings'. The Sedgfield NP resists proposals for development of garden-land in the Conservation Area, unless it can be shown the development will not lead to adverse impacts on the area's historic character.

The Congresbury NP seeks to enhance its Conservation Area by restricting the use of 'modern shiny finishes' such as acrylic and applied vinyl, favouring traditional materials. Traditional, painted signage is encouraged, and illuminated signs are restricted. The plan includes a commitment for the parish council to prepare a Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan - a document separate form the Neighbourhood Plan, which provides analysis of the features of the conservation area, and measures for its protection for the future.

Biodiversity and natural resources

The Brackenfield NP encourages development proposals to deliver a 'net gain' in biodiversity. Existing woodlands, trees and hedgerows should be retained, and if lost replaced with native species. Similarly, the Tarvin NP seeks to ensure there is 'no net loss. in biodiversity.

All development proposals in the Thurston NP's area must include measures to support wildlife,such as bird and bat boxes, and planting to support certain species.

The Bawtry NP requires new development to protect and enhance Green Infrastructure, improve linkages between corridors to enable the movement and spread of flora and fauna. Development proposals in the Congresbury NP area must demonstrate how they will maintain and enhance the connectivity of green corridors and not result in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats. In addition, the impacts of light pollution should be limited and landscaping should use native species and incorporate existing hedgerows, wetland areas and other wildlife features. Buffer zones are to be provided around existing habitats, including sites of special scientific interest, local nature reserves and local wildlife sites.

And finally... 

The North Crawley Neighbourhood Plan, located in Milton Keynes Council area, was rejected by voters at referendum.


Popular posts from this blog

Housing Delivery Test 2019 Results Published

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has now published the latest results of its Housing Delivery Test (HDT), based on the number of new homes built in the period 2016 to 2019.

The HDT 2019 measurement for each council area is provided in the searchable table below.
How the Housing Delivery Test is calculated The HDT calculates the number of new homes built, as a percentage of the number of homes needed over the past three years. MHCLG re-calculates an HDT figure annually for every council area in England. The new 2019 measurement replaces the previous 2018 measurement.
Consequences of the Housing Delivery Test The purpose of the HDT is to hold local authorities to account over the supply of new housing.

Where the HDT shows the delivery of new homes has fallen below 95% of the district or borough's housing requirement over the previous three years, the council should prepare an Action Plan to assess the causes of under-delivery and identify actions to…

Exciting changes to the Plan Finder...

I've given the Neighbourhood Plan Finder a major upgrade, transforming it into a fully fledged web app!

Loyal readers will know that this site provides the most comprehensive directory of made Neighbourhood Plans on the web. However, the original Plan Finder was a little 'clunky'.

The new and improved Plan Finder offers better results and improved functionality, enabling users to perform a simple search to locate made Neighbourhood Plans. For example, with the new Plan Finder you can search for Neighbourhood Plans by:
Name or location of Neighbourhood PlanLocal Planning Authority e.g. district or borough councilCountyNational ParkReferendum date, in format "YYYY-MM-DD" e.g. a search for '2019-12' will return plans which passed referendum in December 2019. This directory of Neighbourhood Plans is intended to raise the profile of Neighbourhood Plans by helping people to find plans more easily. For example, helping developers and agents to locate plans which…

Neighbourhood Plan Review: Plans made in July 2019

Neighbourhood Plans provide a bespoke planning framework for the local area. No two plans are alike, although many have similar characteristics and address common themes. This post provides a short summary of those Neighbourhood Plans which successfully passed referendum in July 2019, highlighting the elements which make each plan locally specific and unique.

The purpose of this post is to celebrate the achievement of those communities in successfully preparing their Neighbourhood Plans, and to share the interesting ideas and policies for the benefit of others who are currently writing their plans. Links to the Neighbourhood Plans are provided throughout the post.
Navigate this post using the map July was a busy month, with a whopping 24 Neighbourhood Plans successfully passing referendum. To  make it easier to navigate this post, the location of the areas covered by each new Neighbourhood Plan are shown on the interactive map. Click on a marker to reveal a link to the plan's su…

Why the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan failed

News that the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan was rejected at referendum has spread rapidly across social media and has even been picked up by local and national press - see BBC article.

The story has garnered a lot of attention as it is highly unusual for a Neighbourhood Plan to be rejected. The Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan is only the third Neighbourhood Plan not to be supported by residents.

At the referendum held on 14 March 2019, the Neighbourhood Plan was rejected, albeit by a very slim margin of just 22 votes.
'No' Campaign Prior to the referendum, Labour town councillors led a campaign which encouraged local people to vote against the Neighbourhood Plan. 
Based on the literature shared by the campaign group, opposition to the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan appears to be pointed at three key issues: Impacts on the town and its infrastructure of the overall scale of growth Middlewich is expected deliverDisagreement with the individual sites identified by the Neighbourhood …

Secretary of State overturns Planning Inspector's decision due to density concerns

Normally, planning appeals are determined by Planning Inspectors, but in some circumstances appeals may be 'recovered' for determination by the Secretary of State (SoS). The current SoS for Housing, Communities and Local Government is James Brokenshire MP.

In December 2018, the SoS issued a decision on a recovered appeal at Woburn Sands, Buckinghamshire. The proposal for residential development of up to 203 dwellings, a doctor’s surgery, open space and landscaping, together with pedestrian, cycle and vehicular access, was initially refused by Milton Keynes Council, and following appeal, granted permission by a Planning Inspector. However, the SoS recovered the appeal and overturned the Inspector's decision, dismissing the appeal.

Details of the case are available on the Planning Inspectorate's website, using case reference: APP/Y0435/W/17/3169314.
Appeal site & Neighbourhood Plan The appeal site is a 15.2 hectare, greenfield site, located outside the development bo…

Just how big is an infill site? Appeal decision: Chinnor, Oxfordshire

An appeal decision initially caught my eye due to its surprising interpretation of 'infill development' -  but also raises some concerning issues around how Neighbourhood Plan policies are applied during the decision-making process.

The appeal relates to an application for the construction of up to 140 dwellings, new public open space, associated landscaping and site infrastructure on a 3.9ha site at Chinnor, Oxfordshire. The application was made by Persimmon Homes and initially refused by South Oxfordshire District Council. The appeal was allowed, meaning the Planning Inspector went against the district council's decision grant planning permission for the scheme. Details of the appeal can be found using the following reference APP/Q3115/W/17/3187058. Neighbourhood Plan & Development Plan Chinnor is a large village in Oxfordshire. The Chinnor Neighbourhood Plan (CNP) was 'made' in October 2017. When the appeal commenced, the Neighbourhood Plan was less than one…

Appeal granted in countryside despite Five Year Land Supply - Shinfield Neighbourhood Plan

Through a recent appeal decision, a Planning Inspector has granted outline planning permission for up to 55 dwellings and 'Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace' (SANG) at land at Parklands, east of Basingstoke Road, Spencers Wood, Wokingham.

The decision was issued on 28th February 2019, under appeal reference APP/X0360/W/18/3204133.

The appeal site is located between two villages, Three Mile Cross and Spencers Wood. The scheme proposes two areas of development adjoining each of the villages, separated by an area of open space - a 'SANG'.
Shinfield Neighbourhood Plan The Shinfield Neighbourhood Plan (SNP) was made in February 2017. Policy 1 of the SNP addresses the location of development:

In Shinfield Parish, development within the Development Limits..., will be supported; development adjacent to the Development Limits will only be supported where the benefits of the development outweigh its adverse impacts. 

'Development limits' are a very common planning …

Essential reading for Neighbourhood Planners

Through my site I have attempted to explain the neighbourhood planning process, and provide regular blog posts on the latest issues affecting neighbourhood planning. But where can you go to find out more?

In this article I attempt to summarise where you should go for the most useful information and guidance, and where you can find funding and support for writing a Neighbourhood Plan.
Locality Toolkits and Guidance Locality administer the government's current programme of support for neighbourhood planning groups, and Locality's site should be your first port of call when writing a Neighbourhood Plan.
Locality has produced an excellent series of 'toolkits & guidance' on a range of issues to assist the preparation of neighbourhood plans. It is difficult to understate how valuable Locality's guides are for budding neighbourhood planners. Be sure you don't miss: The Neighbourhood Plans Roadmap 2018 by Dave …

"Presumption-proofing" Neighbourhood Plans

Planning law states that applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Therefore, where a planning application conflicts with an up-to-date Local Plan or any Neighbourhood Plans, permission should not usually be granted unless there are material considerations which indicate that a departure from the plan(s) would be appropriate.

In July 2018, government published a new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) replacing the previous 2012 framework. The NPPF is potentially one form of ‘material consideration’. The current (and former) NPPF includes a 'presumption in favour of sustainable development'.

The ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ applies where there are no relevant development plan policies, or the policies which are most important for determining applications, including housing development, are out-of-date

Crucially, the NPPF considers plans to be ou…