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Reply To: Key Topics for Neighbourhood Planning Champions Residential Live Chat – 10 Feb

Home The Just Act Forum Just Act live discussions Key Topics for Neighbourhood Planning Champions Residential Live Chat – 10 Feb Reply To: Key Topics for Neighbourhood Planning Champions Residential Live Chat – 10 Feb

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Hi Faye

I think this might be of help to you, I got it from Cornwall Council Guidance for NDPs.

Briefing note: weight of emerging neighbourhood plans

Communities preparing neighbourhood plans will want to know when their draft plans can be taken into account in planning decisions, especially if planning applications are submitted while the community is in the process of preparing a neighbourhood plan.
Valid planning applications have to be determined – the Local Planning Authority cannot refuse to consider, or delay a decision on a planning application because a community is preparing a neighbourhood plan. However, like all planning policy documents, neighbourhood plans will gather increasing weight as a material consideration, the further they get through the process.
For all Plans the National Planning Policy Framework says:
From the day of publication, decision-takers may also give weight (unless other material considerations indicate otherwise) to relevant policies in emerging plans according to:
• the stage of preparation of the emerging plan (the more advanced the preparation, the greater the weight that may be given);
• the extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies (the less significant the unresolved objections, the greater the weight that may be given); and
• the degree of consistency of the relevant policies in the emerging plan to the policies in this Framework (the closer the policies in the emerging plan to the policies in the Framework, the greater the weight that may be given). (NPPF Annex 1 – para 216)
National Planning Policy Guidance says:
‘An emerging neighbourhood plan may be a material consideration. ……….Factors to consider include the stage of preparation of the plan and the extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies….Decision makers should respect evidence of local support prior to referendum when seeking to apply weight to an emerging neighbourhood plan. …………It is for the decision maker in each case to determine what a material consideration is and what weight to give it.’ (NPPG Neighbourhood Planning para 07)
A Written Ministerial Statement of the 10th of July 2014, https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/neighbourhood-planning is considered to have reinforced the NPPG to make it clear that, once a neighbourhood plan has been submitted formally to the local authority for examination, it (and its policies) represent a material consideration to which weight can be given in considering the planning balance when determining any particular planning application or appeal.

The NPPG also refers to circumstances in which it might be justifiable to refuse planning permission on the grounds of prematurity:
Annex 1 of the National Planning Policy Framework explains how weight may be given to policies in emerging plans as set out above. However in the context of the Framework and in particular the presumption in favour of sustainable development – arguments that an application is premature are unlikely to justify a refusal of planning permission other than where it is clear that the adverse impacts of granting permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, taking the policies in the Framework and any other material considerations into account. Such circumstances are likely, but not exclusively, to be limited to situations where both:
a) the development proposed is so substantial, or its cumulative effect would be so significant, that to grant permission would undermine the plan-making process by predetermining decisions about the scale, location or phasing of new development that are central to an emerging Local Plan or Neighbourhood Planning; and
b) the emerging plan is at an advanced stage but is not yet formally part of the development plan for the area.
Refusal of planning permission on grounds of prematurity will seldom be justified where a draft Local Plan has yet to be submitted for examination, or in the case of a Neighbourhood Plan, before the end of the local planning authority publicity period. Where planning permission is refused on grounds of prematurity, the Council as local planning authority will need to indicate clearly how the grant of permission for the development concerned would prejudice the outcome of the plan-making process. (NPPG – Neighbourhood Planning – para 08)

Stage of plan preparation:
The regulated stages of neighbourhood plan preparation are:

Area Designation: All that is really known is the intention of a community to prepare a plan – there is likely to be little content to take into consideration and, importantly, detailed proposals have not been widely consulted on and endorsed by the community No to little weight can be given.

Pre-submission Consultation: Following this 6 week consultation the steering group will have evidence of community support for the plan – and if any policies are not supported or need to be Some weight could be given to aspects where clear community support can be demonstrated. The decision maker will have to assess the quality of consultation, level of support and the general conformity of proposed policies.
However the plan might not be legally compliant.

Submission/Legal Compliance: The plan is formally submitted to Cornwall Council, checked for legal compliance and endorsed by members. Increasing weight can be given, again subject to evidence of support. This is dependent on the Council being of the opinion that the plan is legally compliant (but the Examiner must confirm this).

Publication Consultation: This 6 week consultation confirms that Cornwall Council endorses the plan as legally complaint. Further comments made at this stage will be assessed by the Examiner. Increasing weight can be given – taking into account any comments received during the consultation and with the knowledge that the examiner can require changes to the plan. When seeking to apply weight to an emerging neighbourhood plan. The consultation statement submitted with the draft neighbourhood plan should reveal the quality and effectiveness of the consultation that has informed the plan proposals. (NPPG Neighbourhood Planning – para 07)

Examination: The Examiner determines whether the plan meets the basic conditions and recommends whether it proceeds to referendum or not. He may also require changes to be made to the plan. The Council decides whether the plan will proceed to referendum A successful plan carries considerable weight. It has now been confirmed that the plan is legally compliant and meets the Basic Conditions, one of which is general conformity with the NPPF .

Referendum Those on the Electoral Register within the plan area vote in a referendum, in a Yes/No vote on whether the plan should be adopted. A simple majority, regardless of turnout, means that the Plan can be adopted. After successful examination the plan carries substantial weight.

Adoption The plan is ‘Made’ by Cornwall Council. The Council can make the plan if it considers that it is compatible with EU obligations and does not breach the European Convention on Human Rights and has no powers to amend the content. Plan carries full weight.

Whilst a referendum ensures that the community has the final say on whether the neighbourhood plan comes into force subject to the decision of the Council, decision makers should respect evidence of local support prior to the referendum

A neighbourhood plan can be made prior to adoption of the draft Cornwall Local Plan as it is required to be in conformity with the ‘Local Plan’ which in the case of Cornwall is the saved policies of the adopted development plans, and also the NPPF. If once the Cornwall Local Plan is adopted there is any conflict between the neighbourhood plan policies and those of the Cornwall Local Plan then the conflict must be resolved by the decision maker favouring the policy which is contained in the last document to become part of the development plan. (NPPG Neighbourhood Planning – para 09)
Sarah Arden Principal Planning Policy Officer and Elizabeth Dunstan Planning Policy and Special Projects Legal Consultant
April 2015
If you have any queries regarding this briefing note please contact Sarah Arden Principal Planning Officer on 01872 224294 or e-mail at SArden@cornwall.gov.uk