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Questions and answers

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1. What’s the difference between a community plan and a neighbourhood plan? 

A neighbourhood plan has legal weight, and is concerned only with land use. It can only be undertaken by a parish council or neighbourhood forum and must follow a proscribed process set down in the legislation.

A community plan (also sometimes called a parish plan or a village plan) has no legal weight, except in certain special circumstances. It can cover any subject residents feel are important. It can be undertaken by any group of interested residents using any process.

2. We’ve already done a village plan. Can this be converted into a neighbourhood plan or adopted by the National Park Authority as supplementary planning guidance?

If your village plan:

  • is up to date
  • broadly conforms with and adds detail to the local plan
  • shows evidence of wide consultation in your community

...then, it is likely that it could be used as the basis for developing supplementary guidance or a neighbourhood plan. There is more information about supplementary planning guidance on the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) website.

3. Can the National Park Authority take our village plan into account in making planning decisions?

If there are statements in the plan that refer to land-use, they could be adopted as a material planning consideration. The weight attached to material planning considerations in reaching a decision is a matter of judgement for the decision-taker.  More weight will be given to those statements in a village plan that are:

  • consistent with the Local development plan
  • supported by the strength of process
  • supported by evidence.

4. What will it cost to produce a neighbourhood plan?

Costs will vary depending on:

  • the size of your neighbourhood area and the population
  • the scope of the plan – are you tackling a single issue or a series of complex issues?
  • how much the parish council or neighbourhood forum is able to do itself
  • how much help you may be able to get ‘for free’ from outside organisations (eg the National Park Authority and voluntary and community sector organisations)
  • how much you might have to pay for (using a consultant for example, or buying in extra help from the voluntary and community sector)

For communities typical of the national park, a low cost estimate might be around £3,000, and a high cost estimate around £10,000.

5. What happens if we can’t agree?

In all forms of community-led planning, it is important to reach broad agreement and to build up evidence. 

The existing Local Development Plan and other published studies are important, and you may need to develop new evidence at neighbourhood level where there are gaps, or existing evidence is out of date.

Good evidence, and good consultation, will help to build a consensus. A neighbourhood plan will not come into force unless more than 50% of people voting in a referendum say ‘yes’.

6. Is there any funding available?

Town and parish councils and neighbourhood forums can apply for grants of up to £9,000 through www.mycommunityrights.org.uk

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