Neighbourhood Plan

The objective of our consultation events was to hear residents’ views on our draft Plan and we would like to thank all those who turned out and communicated with us, either by conversation and/or by filling in our short questionnaires.

With the invaluable help and guidance from our urban designer, our planning consultant and our planning adviser, we put a final draft together and met with Maidstone Borough Council to discuss their thoughts, we them submitted the final version for approval.

The plan was adopted by Maidstone Borough Council in April 2016.

Click here to view final Neighbourhood Plan.
Click here to view MBC Adoption Notice.

 

WHO HAS PAID FOR THIS?
We could not have done all this without the help of a grant from a government-created £9.5m funding and support programme, set up to help communities produce neighbourhood plans. As a Neighbourhood Forum that is not a parish council we were eligible for support in the form of money and time from the Community Development Foundation, which is managed by LOCALITY (http://locality.org.uk/about/) – the leading nationwide network of development trusts, community enterprises, settlements and social action centres.

We were awarded grants totalling £9,565 which we have used to pay for our consultants’ time, workshops for the planning group, costs of publicity information and will now help towards the costs of publishing the final Plan as a document. We were also awarded support from a Planning Aid England Adviser and her team, who give their time in the form of workshops and advice to enable our group to produce a Neighbourhood Development Plan. 

Without their help and professionalism we could never have achieved where we are to date with this very daunting task. They have provided us with a project timetable broken down into individual tasks, and seen us through each one. We would like to thank them all for their friendly and willing help and look forward to their continued support through the next phases of consultations and submissions.


Do we really need a Neighbourhood Plan?
Two thousand extra building projects per month are being given the go-ahead by councils after the Coalition’s planning reforms. The proportion of residential planning permissions has also increased significantly since the National Planning Policy Framework came into force in April; George Osborne has signalled that he wants to make it easier to build on the green belt.
Neighbourhood Plans are not compulsory and many areas are likely to continue without a plan. In these areas the planning rules are defined by central government’s policy and the local borough’s planning strategy alone.
However, there are substantial aspects of planning which are not defined in these intentionally high-level policies, making it easy for a new development to conform without considering the local community.  Lack of a neighbourhood plan can make opposition to such development very difficult even if it seems completely inappropriate for the local neighbourhood.
Throughout the country large numbers of parish councils and local groups such as ourselves have decided this poses an unacceptable risk and are developing neighbourhood plans (NPG) to add an extra layer of scrutiny in planning.

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A FIRST LOOK AT NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING
(Introduced through the Localism Act – effective from April 2012)

Neighbourhood planning is a new right for communities to have a say in their own future.    It can be taken forward by parish councils or, where there is no parish council, by ‘Neighbourhood Forums’.

Neighbourhood development plans will become part of the statutory development plan and will form the basis for determining planning applications in that area.  However, they cannot stop development; they must be legally compliant and must take account of national and local development policies.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?
The planning system helps decide what gets built, where and when.   It is essential for supporting economic growth, improving people’s quality of life, and protecting the natural environment.

HOW WILL IT WORK?
Neighbourhood Planning Groups (NPGs) will need to be set up in accordance with a set of rules, which include a minimum number of members, be representative of the community, open to everyone, subject to independent checks and eventually subject to a community referendum.  If the local planning authority decides that the community group meets the right standards, the group will be able to call itself a ‘Neighbourhood Forum’ which is the technical term for groups which have been granted the legal power to do neighbourhood planning.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Once a neighbourhood plan is in force, it carries real legal weight.   Decision-makers will be obliged, by law, to take what it says into account when they consider proposals for development in the neighbourhood.

If you would like to know more about neighbourhood planning click on this link to view a guide showing the various stages involved in producing a Neighbourhood Plan.