Neighbourhood Planning was introduced in 2011 through the Localism Act. It allows local people to set out their own planning policies in a Neighbourhood Plan. Planning applications will then be assessed against them.
A Neighbourhood Plan can help inform, direct and shape development, allowing you to say what you think our parish needs. It is a blueprint for sustainable development written by the local community. Its origins come from the Government’s determination to ensure that local communities are closely involved in decisions that affect them.
In simple terms, a Neighbourhood Plan is a document that sets out planning policies for our parish. Planning policies are used to decide whether to approve planning applications. A Neighbourhood Plan is written by the local community, the people who know and love the area, rather than the Local Planning Authority, in our case, Ashford Borough Council.
Our Neighbourhood Plan must integrate with and not conflict with local or national planning policy. It must be a blueprint for sustainable development in our parish and must not block development. It is not a wish list of projects but a planning policy document for future development. A Neighbourhood Plan cannot change the past but it can help to ensure that we learn from it and do not repeat past mistakes.
We believe that planning should be good for everyone, not just developers. That is why we want to involve local people in making decisions about how our parish develops in the future. A Neighbourhood Plan gives residents power to influence where development should or should not take place, its scale, and the infrastructure needed to support growth.
A Neighbourhood Plan can be a powerful tool to ensure the community gets the right types of development, in the right place, which reflect our priorities and deliver tangible local benefits. It can be used as a positive force for change. Giving us residents a say in how the area where we live, work and play will change over time. It is a legal document and will have real weight in planning decisions giving us more control over what happens in our community.
With a Neighbourhood Plan, we will be in a stronger position to stop unsustainable and unwanted developments and to manage traffic on our already overstretched roads.
Voting no for a Neighbourhood Plan does not mean a vote for no development, but for no control over development.
Nicholas Boles MP, former Planning Minister
A Neighbourhood Plan covers a designated geographic area. In our case, the entire parish of Boughton Aluph and Eastwell. This comprises the communities of Boughton Aluph, Kempes Corner, Boughton Lees, Eastwell, Goat Lees and a section of Sandyhurst Lane. You will find a map here.
A Neighbourhood Plan is an important document with real legal force. There are certain formal procedures that it must go through before it can be brought into force. This includes public consultation and a local Referendum where more than 50% of people voting must support the Plan.
In summary, the key stages for preparing a Neighbourhood Plan are:
- Defining the neighbourhood
- Preparation of a draft Neighbourhood Plan
- Pre-submission publicity and local consultation on the draft Neighbourhood Plan
- Submission of the draft Neighbourhood Plan to the Local Planning Authority, includes a 6 week public consultation on the draft Plan
- Independent Examination
Further detailed information on what is involved in each of the key stages for preparing a Neighbourhood Plan can be found here.
We think it will take us until the mid 2018 to compile the draft Neighbourhood Plan document. Our timetable is, in part, determined by the progress of the Local Plan for the Borough, with which our Neighbourhood Plan must conform. Then it will go through various stages of public consultation and independent examination. If at any point, changes to the Plan document are required then we will consult residents on the changes. A Referendum will be held on the final draft.
Our roadmap or outline project plan is here and will be updated as timescales become clearer.
The Neighbourhood Plan will remain in place until 2030.
A Neighbourhood Plan is a statutory or legal document. A Parish Design Statement is not and, therefore, carries little weight in planning decisions.
Our Neighbourhood Plan will be able to influence what new buildings in the parish should look like by including references to design standards taken from the Parish Design Statement. We may also annex some or all of the Parish Design Statement to the Neighbourhood Plan. As the Parish Design Statement was written in 2003, this could be a revision of the existing document.
The Parish Council are the owners of our Neighbourhood Plan. They have set up a Steering Group to take the day to day lead on the development of our Neighbourhood Plan. This is a small group of volunteers supported from, time to time, by specialist planning consultants appointed by the Parish Council.
However, we will need the support and involvement of residents to produce the final Neighbourhood Plan document. Find out how you can get involved here.