The Localism Act (2011) introduced several new rights and powers to allow local communities to shape new development, including the provision to prepare a 'Neighbourhood Plan' for their area. A neighbourhood plan can set out policies for the location of houses, shops, and offices, or set design standards for new development.
In "parished" areas, Neighbourhood Plans can only be undertaken by the relevant Town or Parish Council. Elsewhere, they may be prepared by a duly constituted 'neighbourhood forum'.
Preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan is optional; it is effectively an alternative to a Parish or Town Council working in partnership with the District Council.
Responsibility for preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan rests with the relevant Town/Parish Council (or combination of Town/Parish Councils if the area straddles boundaries). At the same time, the District Council will provide advice and assistance.
Like Local Plans, Neighbourhood Plans are statutory plans, the process for which is legally prescribed, and, when made, form part of the formally adopted 'development plan'. All Neighbourhood Plans must be in general conformity with the strategic policies for an area (which is generally taken to be a Council's Core Strategy or equivalent Local Plan) as well as the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and European Legislation.
As with a Local Plan, a Neighbourhood Plan will be subject to an independent Examination. However, it additionally requires a local referendum to be held to ensure that the community has the final say on whether the plan comes into force or not.
To learn more about the Bewdley Neighbourhood Plan, please visit www.beinbewdley.org