What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan is a relatively new type of planning document, introduced by the Localism Act 2011 and the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012, to work alongside the District Council’s strategic planning policies. It is a community-led framework for guiding future development, regeneration and conservation within a specific area, known as the Neighbourhood Area Boundary.
Neighbourhood Plans can establish planning policies and allocate land for development, as long as these are in accordance with national and district policies. For example, a Neighbourhood Plan cannot allocate less than the required number of homes, which have been allotted in the District Council’s Local Plan.
Neighbourhood Plans introduce new powers to allow communities to set their own priorities for development, within the area boundary, including where new development should go and what it should look like.
A Plan typically explores issues such as transport, community, housing, sustainability and employment.
Once adopted, any planning applications that fall within the Neighbourhood Area Boundary (which is the same as the Parish boundary) will be assessed against the relevant policies contained within the Neighbourhood Plan, as well as any other relevant policies that may already be in place, such as the District Council’s Local Plan.
The Neighbourhood Area Boundary also determines who will get to vote in the referendum. This will be people who live within the Neighbourhood Area Boundary and qualify to vote in local council elections.
A Neighbourhood Plan must conform with national and local planning policy (this is known as the basic conditions test). Once the Plan is finalised, it sits as part of the District Council’s Development Plan (for the Berrick Salome Neighbourhood Plan this is part of South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC′s) Local Plan). All applications are determined on the policies contained within the Local Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
For further information on Neighbourhood Plans in South Oxfordshire, go to SODC′s website.
Who is responsible for the Neighbourhood Plan?
The Parish Council is legally responsible for the delivery of the Neighbourhood Plan and will co-ordinate the plan-making process. However, the wider community is encouraged to become actively involved in the plan-making process. The Parish Council have engaged a consultant to help produce the Plan.
The Berrick Salome Parish Neighbourhood Plan will be adopted and become part of SODC′s Development Plan for the area, if successful at referendum.
A person is entitled to vote if at the time of the referendum, they meet the eligibility criteria to vote in a local election for the area, if they live in the referendum area and they are on the electoral roll.
How much weight is attached to the Plan prior to it being adopted?
The Plan has some limited weight from the time the Full Plan is submitted to SODC. As the Plan progresses through the statutory process to adoption (e.g. review by Independent Examiner) it carries more weight at each stage until, having passed the Referendum, it carries full legal weight.
What happens if the Plan is rejected at the Referendum?
If 50% or more of the respondents to the referendum vote in favour of the Plan, it is accepted and moves forward to adoption. If 50% or more of the respondents vote against the Plan, it is rejected and does not proceed – effectively the village would have to start the process all over again.
What happens after the Draft Plan is submitted to SODC?
The Plan will be reviewed by SODC and other key stakeholders over a six-week period and questions and comments relayed back to the team. The team will then process these, amending the Plan as required, and adding detailed elements that were not ready for inclusion in our Pre-Submission (Draft) version.
When the revised (Final) version of the Plan is ready, this will be submitted to SODC and they will then assume responsibility for the final set of Inspection, Referendum and Adoption processes. This final process set runs to a statutory timetable that typically lasts 6 months from the point of submission.
When do residents get to vote on the Plan?
When SODC triggers the referendum – all residents of the Parish over the age of 18 are eligible to vote in this referendum.