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Neighbourhood Planning


Neighbourhood planning was introduced through the Localism Act in 2011. This gives communities new rights and powers to shape development in the places they live and work.


What is a neighbourhood plan?


A neighbourhood plan is a development framework guiding the future development, regeneration or conservation of an area. It is led and produced by an authorised local community organisation. Where there is no parish or town council that organisation must be a designated neighbourhood forum.

Neighbourhood plans can:
  • identify a vision for the area
  • provide detailed planning policies setting out for example, how new development should be designed and where it should be located
  • set out proposals for improving the area or providing key facilities
  • allocate sites for different types of development
A neighbourhood plan will be subject to examination and a referendum, and once adopted will form part of the statutory development plan for Tameside.  As a result, neighbourhood plans carry significant weight as a consideration in determining planning applications in the borough, giving the local community more influence and control over the development of their area.

There are a number of legal requirements that must be met in producing a neighbourhood plan. A neighbourhood plan must:
  • be appropriate having regard to national planning policy
  • contribute to the achievement of sustainable development
  • be in general conformity with the strategic policies in the development plan for the local area
  • be compatible with human rights requirements
  • be compatible with EU obligations
Further information about neighbourhood planning is available at the links below:

Is a neighbourhood plan right for you?

Preparing a neighbourhood plan is a significant opportunity, but it is also a major commitment in terms of time, energy and resources, and may not be right for every community. This is a community-led process which is likely to take up a lot of time, and whilst Tameside Council will provide advice and assistance, the majority of the work will need to be done by the local community.

There are a number of factors to consider in deciding whether producing a neighbourhood plan is right for you:
  • What a neighbourhood plan can and can not achieve:

A neighbourhood plan can be used to set out how new development should be designed and where it should be located. However, it can not be used to stop development already permitted or allocated in the local plan, or propose less development than that identified in the local plan. If you have concerns about the overall scale of development being proposed in your area, or your issues are ‘big picture' ones such as the need for additional roads in the area, then it may be more appropriate for you to seek to influence the local plan.

  • The potential for the lack of a five year supply of housing to take precedence over policies in neighbourhood plans:

Paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework explains that 'housing applications should be considered in the context of the presumption in favour of sustainable development. Relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites'. Therefore, sites which are protected from development in a neighbourhood plan may still need to be considered for development if there is a shortage of suitable development sites across the Borough as a whole.

  • Timescales for producing a neighbourhood plan:

Preparing a neighbourhood plan is a relatively lengthy process. Once it is finalised, a neighbourhood plan will form part of the statutory development plan for the area, and therefore there are specific requirements that must be met in producing a neighbourhood plan, including undertaking consultation and holding a referendum. It is estimated that from start to finish it will take around two years to produce a neighbourhood plan.

  • There is no guarantee of success:

There is a risk that a substantial amount of time could be spent on producing a neighbourhood plan but it is not possible to bring it into force. This could be either because the borough council does not consider that the basic conditions have been met or that the outcome of the referendum is a ‘no' vote.

  • There are alternatives to producing a neighbourhood plan:

There may be other types of document that are better suited to meeting the needs of your neighbourhood, such as community plans, regeneration strategies and design statements. These would not have statutory status as part of the development plan, but would be given some consideration in determining planning applications and could be produced much more quickly taking up less time of the community.

  • There are costs involved:

There are costs associated with preparing a neighbourhood plan, and these will vary depending on how complex the plan is and the size of the neighbourhood, however the overall cost of producing a neighbourhood plan could be extensive. Whilst some of the costs are the responsibility of the local authority (eg holding the examination and referendum), funding for other costs will need to be met by the community producing the neighbourhood plan. The types of costs that would be incurred include holding community consultation events, publicity, producing copies of plans and professional consultancy costs (for example to provide specialist advice or evidence) if required. The government can provide some support and grants to assist communities in the neighbourhood planning process.

  • The involvement of other interested parties:

Whilst the neighbourhood forum will lead and co-ordinate the production of the neighbourhood plan, it will be important that effective engagement with the wider community and other interested parties takes place. Part of the neighbourhood planning process is identifying and understanding the different views about how the area should develop and trying to reconcile this, people who disagree with your views can not be excluded from the process. Whilst it is a legal requirement that consultation is carried out, it will also assist in understanding local issues and ensuring that the plan is realistic and deliverable. The plan will also be subject to a local referendum and the possibility of a ‘no' vote is greatly reduced if people have had the opportunity to participate in its production.

  • The skills required:

General skills for producing a neighbourhood plan include leadership, project management, organisational skills and an ability to engage, communicate and negotiate with a diverse range of members of the public.
 

Process for producing a neighbourhood plan


There are seven key stages in producing a neighbourhood plan:

1. Designating a neighbourhood area and a neighbourhood forum:

This is the first formal step in neighbourhood planning process. Where there are no Parish or town councils a neighbourhood forum must be formed to lead and co-ordinate the production of a neighbourhood plan and this should be submitted to Tameside Borough Council for designation. Both the neighbourhood area and the forum need to meet certain legal requirements and have to be formally designated for this purpose by the council. Details of the information that is required to be submitted to the council alongside a neighbourhood forum or neighbourhood area application is available to download from this page.

2. Preparing a neighbourhood plan or order:

The neighbourhood forum will need to pull together its evidence base, identify the aims of the neighbourhood plan and carry out initial community engagement.

3. Pre-submission consultation on a neighbourhood plan or order:

Once a draft neighbourhood plan is produced, this should be consulted on for a six week period.

4. Submission of a neighbourhood plan or order to the local planning authority:

The neighbourhood plan should be submitted to Tameside Borough Council who will publicise it and make it available for inspection for a six week period.

5. Independent examination of a neighbourhood plan or order:

The council will then appoint an independent examiner to check the plan meets the right basic standards. The examiner may recommend that the plan proceeds to referendum, suggest modifications are needed before the plan can proceed to referendum or recommend that the plan does not proceed to referendum.

6. Referendum(s) on whether a neighbourhood plan or order should come into legal force:

Tameside Borough Council will organise a referendum on any plan that meets the basic standards. People living in the neighbourhood area who are registered to vote in local elections will be entitled to vote, and if more than 50% of people voting in the referendum support the plan, then the borough council must bring it into force.

7. Making of the neighbourhood plan or order (bringing it into legal force):

Once the plan is brought into force, it forms part of the statutory development plan for the area and should be given weight in making decisions on planning applications.

More information about the process for producing a neighbourhood plan is available from the links below:

The legal requirements for producing a neighbourhood plan are set out in:

Downloadable documents

The role of the community in producing a neighbourhood plan

A neighbourhood plan is a community-led framework, which is produced by an authorised community organisation rather than Tameside Borough Council. Whilst the council will work with and support local communities in producing neighbourhood plans, the majority of the work will need to be done by the local community, and there are a number of tasks need to be undertaken in producing a neighbourhood plan including:

• Identifying the neighbourhood area:

Work on a neighbourhood plan can only commence formally once the neighbourhood area has been designated by the local authority. The community will need to decide on the neighbourhood area boundary and submit it to the council for designation. The council can refuse to designate the area applied for if it considers the area is not appropriate, but must give reasons for this.

• Forming a neighbourhood forum:

Where there is no parish or town council a prospective neighbourhood forum of at least 21 people must be formed to lead and co-ordinate the plan making process. In accordance with legal requirements, this should reflect the diversity, character and inclusivity of the area and should if possible include at least one person living in the area, one person working/operating a business in the area and at least one councillor. The neighbourhood forum should be open to all such people, regardless of the different views they may have about the future development of the area. The community will need to submit the prospective neighbourhood forum to the council for approval.

• Producing a constitution:

All neighbourhood forums will require a written constitution that sets out the purpose of the neighbourhood forum, its working arrangements, governance, arrangements for financial management and duration.

• Preparing a project plan:

It will be important to draw up a programme for producing the neighbourhood plan which includes a timetable, key stages and actions, available resources and likely costs.

• Funding the production of the neighbourhood plan:

There will be costs associated with producing the neighbourhood plan and whilst some of these will be met by the council (holding the independent examination and the public referendum), funding for other costs will need to be found by the neighbourhood forum producing the plan. There is currently some government funding available to support the production of neighbourhood plans, which the neighbourhood forum can apply for.

• Carrying out community consultation:

Ongoing, effective community engagement is essential in developing a successful neighbourhood plan. The neighbourhood forum will be responsible for organising and undertaking consultation on the neighbourhood plan, and it is likely that the council will only be able to provide very limited support.

• Developing new evidence:

The council holds a lot of evidence that may assist in informing and supporting the development of a neighbourhood plan. However, there may be additional evidence that the neighbourhood forum would like to produce in their neighbourhood plan. Any such evidence would need to be collected or commissioned by the neighbourhood forum, as the council does not have the resources to pay for such work. This could include local surveys or research to clarify key issues.

Support available in producing a neighbourhood plan

There are several sources of support and advice available for communities interested in producing a neighbourhood plan:

  • Once the neighbourhood area is approved, the Tameside Borough Council is legally required to provide support and advice to those bodies producing a neighbourhood plan in its area. The outline level of engagement is set out in a basic Service Level Agreement (SLA). This sets out the principle key areas in which the council will support the neighbourhood forum in producing a neighbourhood plan and can be downloaded at the foot of this page. In summary the council will: 

    o Providing initial advice on the process and legislation in preparing a neighbourhood plan
    o Reviewing the project plan
    o Making existing evidence held by the council available
    o Reviewing the policies in the neighbourhood plan
    o Advising on whether it is considered that the plan meets the basic conditions as set out in legislation

  • Communities can apply for technical support and grant funding and My Community provides more information.
  • Planning Aid England works directly with neighbourhood planning groups to provide support, advice and professional input to the plans being prepared by those communities.
  • The neighbourhood planning hub is a useful online resource where people engaging in neighbourhood planning can network together and share ideas.
Downloadable documents

Neighbourhood Plans being progressed in Tameside

Denton South Area:


On the 13th March 2017 the Council formally designated a neighbourhood forum and neighbourhood area covering Denton South. Full details of the designation including the contact details for the Forum secretary are available at the links below:
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