Neighbourhood Plan Questions & Answers
Plans for a new neighbourhood plan are in the pipeline at Ingatestone and Fryerning Parish Council and we want the community to get involved. Cllr Jane Winter explains how neighbourhood planning works and how we can help shape the future of our villages.
Q: What is a neighbourhood plan?
A: A neighbourhood plan is a community-led planning framework to guide the future development, regeneration and conservation of an area. It is about the use and development of land and may contain the vision, aims, planning policies and proposals for improving the area, or providing new facilities and the allocation of key sites for specific kinds of development. It can deal with a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues (such as housing, employment, heritage and transport).
Q: Why do we need one?
A: The parish has a record of documenting its environment. In 2005, it produced a Village Design Statement illustrating how its history and character should be respected in any new development or redevelopment. This document has been valuable when commenting to Brentwood Borough Council on its planning intentions. However, it remains ‘advisory’, whereas a neighbourhood plan is part of the statutory planning process.
Q: How does it work?
A: A community will agree the extent of the neighbourhood area with the local planning authority (Brentwood Borough Council). A neighbourhood forum will be convened to influence the Local Development Plan (LDP). A community-led steering group will then need to be established. Before a neighbourhood plan can come into force, it must be voted on by the local community in a referendum. It is necessary that more than 50% of those voting in the referendum vote ‘yes’ to bring the plan into force.
Q: Why do we need your skills?
A: We need to get our community on board. A communication strategy must be developed with a time plan for the process, budget, record of community involvement and consultation, review of existing plans, strategies for the area and evidence gathering. We will need to write a profile of the community, audit existing infrastructure, carry out surveys, assess and summarise findings and consider how to tackle issues. In summary, we need people with leadership skills, analytical skills, project management and organisational skills, and communication and negotiation skills. Plus, the ability to engage a diverse range of members of the public, listen to others and work as a team.
Q: Why is it so important for our future?
A: Neighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area. For the first time community groups can produce plans that have real statutory weight in the planning system. With the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy, we will have the opportunity to choose locally what to spend on our infrastructure.
Q: How do I get involved?