Neighbourhood Planning

What is Neighbourhood Planning?

  • Neighbourhood planning is one of the community rights introduced through the Localism Act 2011. It is about land use.
  • Communities can shape development in their areas
  • Neighbourhood Plans become part of the Local Plan and the policies contained within are used to determine planning applications.
  • A Neighbourhood Plan cannot try to contradict Government Policy or block development that is already part of the Local Plan. What they can do is shape where that development will go and what it will look like.

The 4 dimensions are

  • Getting started
  • Getting people involved
  • Writing the plan
  • Running the process

Golden Rule - If it needs a planning application or land use decision then it can be influenced by a neighbourhood plan

Neighbourhood plan

Who? –  Parish/Town Council or Neighbourhood forum (sometimes with business) – the “qualifying body”

Where? – Community proposes boundary for the “neighbourhood area”

What? – Neighbourhood-led place making.  Planning policies and site allocations – must fit with National Planning Policy Framework, and strategic elements of Local Plan. Pro-growth

Examples of some types of planning or land use decisions

  • Change of Use e.g. from commercial to housing.
  • Building and development e.g. a set of new houses
  • Certain signage e.g. large advertising hoardings or certain illuminated signs
  • Minerals, waste & recycling e.g. fracking, incinerator or waste tip.
  • Certain demolitions e.g. one of a pair in a semi or in a conservation area
  • New Roads but alterations may not
  • Listed building consent
  • Infrastructure – e.g. new pylons, new canal, new railway

Why Bother

  • Has real legal power – a part of the “development plan”
  • Secures influence over resources generated by development – community infrastructure levy (CIL)
  • Brings people & businesses together
  • Neighbourhood planning is about more than a neighbourhood plan

Neighbourhood plan helps to

  • Develop shared vision – what you like, dislike, want to change and want to attract
  • Establish common vision and data
  • Choose location of new homes, offices, shops, cultural facilities and other development
  • Identify and protect important green space, views, historic buildings and features
  • Establish urban and architectural design expectations for new development

Where can you get help if you do decide to develop a Neighbourhood Plan

  • Council duty to support
  • Locality grants and support
  • Partners stats – WBC, LHT, NHS (landlocked surgeries?), Police, Fire?
  • Head start with any local profile?

Government Guidance

  • village or settlement boundaries, which could reflect areas of planned expansion;
  • the catchment area for walking to local services such as shops, primary schools, doctors’ surgery, parks or other facilities;
  • the area where formal or informal networks of community based groups operate;
  • the physical appearance or characteristics of the neighbourhood, for example buildings may be of a consistent scale or style;
  • whether the area forms all or part of a coherent estate either for businesses or residents;
  • whether the area is wholly or predominantly a business area;
  • whether infrastructure or physical features define a natural boundary, for example a major road or railway line or waterway;
  • the natural setting or features in an area; and,
  • size of the population (living and working) in the area.

Boundary Considerations

  • Can cross ward and local authority boundaries
  • Enumeration districts
  • Super Output Areas

Websites and partners that can help you assemble evidence

Evidence needs to be proportionate and can include

  • Local authority – reports, surveys, GIS
  • Community surveys & research
  • Commissioned work

Creating your Forum

What’s the rules

  • A group or organisation must apply to the local planning authority to be designated as a neighbourhood forum (a forum application).
  • Those making a forum application must show how they have sought to comply with the conditions for neighbourhood forum designation. 

Forum Requirements

  • At least 21 people
  • live in the neighbourhood area
  • work there; and/or
  • are elected members for a local authority that includes all or part of the neighbourhood area
  • At least 1 Councillor
  • Covering areas around economic, social and environmental well being
  • Constitution – open, drawn from across area
  • 5 year term

Where to find support

Key resources kit  

Funding and technical support -

Forum for Neighbourhood Planning  




Get In Touch

Halton & St Helens VCA 

Halton Office: 01928 592 405
St Maries
Lugsdale Road

St Helens Office: 01744 457100 
2nd Floor Beacon Building
College Street
St Helens
WA10 1TF



Halton & St Helens VCA is an infrastructure organisation that provides advice, information and development support services to voluntary, community, not-for-profit and faith organisations and volunteers in the Boroughs of St Helens and Halton.