In essence, a Neighbourhood Plan is a twenty-year plan that defines the broad planning aims of the neighbourhood. It might identify which areas are to be considered for future building, and which are to be protected from future development; it could give guidance on renewable energy, housing, industry, heritage-site protection, landscape protection, and so on. It should be self-inspired, i.e. produced from within the neighbourhood, and not imposed from above. Once completed, it would need to be examined by the Planning Inspector (at the cost of Cornwall Council), and if it meets the required standards, it would be put to a referendum of all parishioners. If voted for by the majority in the referendum, the neighbourhood plan carries real legal weight. Decision-makers will be obliged, by law, to take what it says into account when they consider proposals for development in the neighbourhood.
>> Find out more – An introduction to neighbourhood planning* – a short step-by-step guide to neighbourhood planning
What support can we get? Cornwall Councillor Derris Watson has declared her willingness to support the parishes in this process, and the local planning authority is also legally obliged to provide ‘technical advice and support’ to communities preparing neighbourhood development plans – but it’s up to the community to decide what this should be. Funding support may also be available: the government has recently awarded a contract to Locality in partnership with the Royal Town Planning Institute, Planning Aid England and partners to deliver a new £9.5 million, 2-year programme to support communities to progress their neighbourhood development plans and neighbourhood development orders.
As explained on mycommunityrights.org.uk* website, the Supporting Communities in Neighbourhood Planning programme will support groups developing neighbourhood plans in two ways: direct support* – advice and support, with an average value of equivalent to £9,500, tailored to meet the needs of supported neighbourhoods; and grant payments* of up to £7,000 per neighbourhood area, to contribute to costs incurred by the group preparing a neighbourhood plan or order. Neighbourhoods may apply for either or both kinds of support.
>> Find out more – Supporting Communities in Neighbourhood Planning 2013-15* – a government-produced factsheet (March 2013) about the support available (financial and otherwise) for communities wishing to undertake neighbourhood planning.
St Cleer has made a start, now other parishes have to decide – Do we want to do it? If so, how do we want to do it? and who’s going to volunteer to work with Derris to get the ball rolling?