Neighbourhood planning – letting local people decide
NEIGHBOURHOOD planning gives communities the capacity to decide the future of their environments.
In the Stroud Valleys and Vale this is one effective way to protect our green fields, provide the type local people actually want and influence the architectural style of the houses we build.
At the very least communities, through neighbourhood planning, would have considerably more influence over planning applications from outside rather than being purely reactive and, consequently, relatively powerless.
All of this matters because of the obvious beauty of our towns and villages and the vibrant and imaginative nature of local people.
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This new localised planning enables communities to decide where they want houses, shops and offices to be built, influence their design and even grant permission for new buildings.
Neighbourhood planning is optional but can also be liberating and empowering.
There are five key steps. Firstly, communities must decide by defining their neighbourhood, normally the parish or town council area, and confirming their intentions with, in our case, Stroud District Council.
Second, ideas and plans will need to be collated and accessed.
Essentially, the plan should set a vision for the future, including details of location, density, type and style of new buildings.
Obviously, the emerging plan must reflect national planning policies and planning law but how these are implemented is very much a matter for the neighbourhood plan.
Third, the neighbourhood plan needs to be checked by an independent examiner to ensure that it salutes the necessary basis standards. This process helps to test the plan, making it robust and meaningful.
Fourth, a community referendum would be held to give it democratic legitimacy.
If it secures the support of more than 50% of the voting members of the community, the local planning authority must bring it into force.
Finally, it then has real legal force – it is not just a consultative document.
If you are interested in the issues raised above, contact me on 01453 751572 or visit my website www.neilcarmichael.co.uk. Now, you can also follow me on twitter @neil_mp.