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.
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
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, which in our case is Ashford Borough Council.
Our Neighbourhood Plan 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 community 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 carry real weight in planning decisions giving us more control over what happens in our community.
Once adopted, our Neighbourhood Plan will become part of Ashford Borough Council’s statutory Local Plan to 2030 and will be used in making decisions on planning applications in our area. As a legal document it will carry real weight in planning decisions. Developers and local authority planners will have to take notice of it.
With a Neighbourhood Plan, our community will be in a stronger position to stop unwanted and potentially inappropriate and unsustainable development.
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 parishes of Boughton Aluph and Eastwell. This incorporates the communities of Boughton Aluph, Kempe’s Corner, Boughton Lees, Eastwell, Goat Lees and a section of Sandyhurst Lane. See a map of the Neighbourhood Plan area.
A Neighbourhood Plan is a legal document. If it has the backing of residents, it will be adopted by Ashford Borough Council as the Plan which must be used in law to determine planning applications in our parishes. There are certain formal procedures that it must go through before it can be brought into force. This includes public consultation, independent examination 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
Preparing a Neighbourhood Plan is a significant piece of work, particularly as the project is volunteer led. It has taken 2-3 years to complete the consultation and gather the evidence required to produce a draft Plan, after which the Plan went through various stages of public consultation leading up to an independent examination. A Referendum will be held on the final draft. We expect this will now take place in May 2021 (once Neighbourhood Plan referenda are permitted under COVID-19 legislation).
Our timetable to date has, in part, been determined by the progress of the Ashford Local Plan, with which our Neighbourhood Plan must conform. The extension to the timetable for the Borough Council’s Local Plan has had consequences for our original timetable for our Neighbourhood Plan.
The Neighbourhood Plan will remain in place until 2030.
How will the Neighbourhood Plan fit with the existing Parish Design Statement?
A Neighbourhood Plan is a statutory or legal document. A Parish Design Statement is not and, therefore, carries little weight in planning decisions.
Boughton Aluph and Eastwell Parish Council are the owners of the Neighbourhood Plan. A volunteer Steering Group was set up to take the day to day lead on the development of the Plan. This is a small group of volunteers supported from, time to time, by specialist planning consultant appointed by the Parish Council.
The budget for the Neighbourhood Plan is set and controlled by the Parish Council. At its meeting on 8 July 2015, the Parish Council approved a total budget of £32,525 (including contingency) for the production of the Neighbourhood Plan.
Community consultation and specialist advice at the start of the project and to assist with drafting the planning policies are the major cost items.
Grant funding is available to assist with the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan. We have received grant funding of £8,000 from Locality. This offset Parish Council funds.
If you have any questions about the budget for the Neighbourhood Plan, please contact the Parish Clerk.
Regulations linked to the Coronavirus Act 2020 mean that no elections or referendums can take place until 6 May 2021. This includes neighbourhood planning referendums.
With this in mind, it has been decided that neighbourhood plans awaiting referendums can be given significant weight in decision-making.