by Ed Dade
A Neighbourhood Area is the geographical boundary within which your Neighbourhood Plan, including all its policies, will apply.
Most parish councils opt to designate the whole of their parish as a Neighbourhood Area, and this approach is generally seen as the 'default' position. However, you are free to choose a different boundary, so long as it includes some or all of your parish.
To designate a Neighbourhood Area, the parish council must apply to the district council. The application must include a map and a statement providing justification explaining why the area is appropriate.
Designating a parish boundary as a Neighbourhood Area is relatively quick and straight-forward, as the district council is no longer required to carry out formal consultation on the application. The application will simply be approved.
Where the proposed Neighbourhood Area differs from the parish boundary, the district council is required to consult on the Neighbourhood Area application for six weeks.
Whilst it is accepted practice to designate the whole of a parish as a Neighbourhood Area, there may be circumstances where an alternative boundary is more appropriate. The Neighbourhood Area could include only part of the parish, for example just one village. Alternatively, the Neighbourhood Area could include areas beyond the parish boundary. Where this falls in an adjacent parish, the consent of the relevant parish council is required.
Things to consider when identifying boundaries of a Neighbourhood Area:
The precise boundaries of the Neighbourhood Area should be informed by the views of local people. It is a good idea to carry out some form of community engagement or consultation.
Once designated, a Neighbourhood Area can be amended through submitting a new Neighbourhood Area application.
In areas where there is no parish, an organisation called a Neighbourhood Forum must be set up. The Neighbourhood Forum is responsible for preparing and submitting the Neighbourhood Area application.
As there is no parish boundary, the Neighbourhood Forum should engage with the local community to identify a suitable Neighbourhood Area.