The first step for parish/town councils or prospective neighbourhood forums wishing to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan is to submit their proposed neighbourhood area to the local planning authority for designation. 

Prospective neighbourhood forums will also need to submit an application for designation by the local planning authority

Preparing to write a Neighbourhood Plan includes publicity, development of local 
partnerships, community consultation and engagement and the building of an evidence base. 
This will inform the development of a vision and/or aims for the plan. 
These in turn will inform the formulation of policy, proposals and site allocations. Community engagement will be necessary at all stages of the plan-making process. 

The proposed Neighbourhood Plan will be submitted to the local planning authority, 
which will check that proper procedures have been followed in its preparation and that any necessary assessments company the plan. Following a period of publicity, the local planning authority will arrange for an independent examination and organise the public referendum, subject to the plan meeting legal requirements.

Axminster Plan Area

What is a Neighbourhood Plan? 

The idea behind localism is that decision-making be passed to a more local level, from national and regional level to local government, and from local government to local communities. 

The Localism Act 2011 introduces statutory Neighbourhood Planning in England. It enables communities to draw up a Neighbourhood Plan for their area and is intended to give communities more of a say in the development of their local area (within certain limits and parameters).This presents real opportunities to us all. 

These plans will be used to decide the future of the places where we live and work giving opportunities to:

  • choose where you want new homes, shops and offices to be built

  • have your say on what new buildings should look like

  • grant planning permission for the new buildings you want to see go ahead

A Neighbourhood plan will be part of the statutory development plan for the area, if successful at referendum. This statutory status gives Neighbourhood Plans far more weight than some other local documents, such as parish plans, community plans and village design statements. A Neighbourhood Plan must comply with European and national legislation and must have appropriate regard 
to national policy and be in general conformity with existing strategic local planning policy. It should not promote less development than that identified in the development plan for the local area (such as new housing allocations). It can allow greater growth levels. Also, it can specify policies and guidance on how new development should be designed, orientated and located. Neighbourhood Plans can be a powerful tool in shaping the development of a neighbourhood. The timeframe for the Neighbourhood Plan will be for communities to 
decide, for example whether it is a 5, 10, 15 or 20-year plan.

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