Consulting on a draft Neighbourhood Plan

by Ed Dade

Once you have prepared a complete Neighbourhood Plan, it must be published for consultation.

'Complete' means the draft plan sets out the communities preferred approach - meaning it does not contain options or suggestions, but includes all draft policies and supporting text. The parish council conducts the consultation on the draft plan.

The consultation must run for at least six weeks. The parish council must publicise the draft Neighbourhood Plan, in a manner that is likely to bring it to the attention of people who live, work or carry on business in the neighbourhood area.

This should include publishing the draft plan on the parish council's website. You will also need to consider how people without internet access can read the draft plan. The more ways you can bring the draft plan to people's attention, the better!

The Neighbourhood Planning Regulations are quite specific about the groups and organisations who must be consulted on the draft Neighbourhood Plan. In summary, these are:

  • if in London, the Mayor of London
  • all district councils, county councils or parish councils whose area is in or adjoins the area of the district council for the Neighbourhood Area
  • the Coal Authority
  • the Homes and Communities Agency
  • Natural England
  • the Environment Agency
  • Historic England
  • Network Rail
  • Highways England
  • the Marine Management Organisation
  • Telecommunications providers
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • Utilities providers for electricity, gas, water and sewerage
  • voluntary bodies active in the neighbourhood area
  • groups who represent the interests of different racial, ethnic or national groups in the neighbourhood area;
  • groups who represent the interests of different religious groups in the neighbourhood area;
  • groups who represent the interests of businesses in the neighbourhood area; and
  • groups who represent the interests of disabled persons in the neighbourhood area.

Your district council should be able to help you identify consultees.

It must be clear and straight-forward for people to respond to the draft plan. For example, you could design a form for people to write their comments on. 
You must be clear about how you will treat people's personal data, in a manner compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations.

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