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Neighbourhood Plans and decision making by LPA

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Bill Reay Bill Reay 1 year, 11 months ago.

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  • #12225
    Profile photo of John

    How much weight can be given to an emerging neighbourhood plan when the local plan is still emerging and there is uncertaintly about a 5 yr housing supply. The NPPF does not seem too clear on this matter. Clearly as the plan is getting to the final stages it carries more weight, but even if it is made can it still outweigh the fact that a local plan is not in place so the 5 year housing supply has therefore not been tested by public examination? The NPPF does not seem too clear on this as on one hand para 198 says that development which is not in line with the NDP will not normally be approved and on the other para 49 says that where a 5 year supply is not demonstrated the plan is considered not up to date. The local plan proves the 5 year supply, so the neighbourhood plan is toothless until the local plan is in place? If that the case then the Neighbourhood plan becomes meaningless and sustainable housing development can take place anywhere, which is not what Localism is all about!

    Profile photo of Chris


    Dear John.

    You raise some interesting points. You may want to respond to the DCLG NPPF consultation at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/national-planning-policy-consultation-on-proposed-changes .

    Hope this helps.

    Chris (NALC)

    Profile photo of Guy

    We met with the then Planning Minister two years or so ago and he clearly said that depending on how far a Neighbourhood Plan had progessed the more weight it would carry and that even if a Local Plan was not in place the NP would take precedence, and to move with all spead to complete our NP. The lack of a five year land bank is always a problem and a Borough/District Council will always have to weigh up the possible cost of an adverse decision at Appeal and possible costs or to grant planning applications for controversial sites !!

    I know what has happened in our Parish in the past.

    Regards to all


    Profile photo of Jeff

    I believe that SoS is still recovering appeals for housing schemes >10 houses where a NP has reached submission stage (submission to the LPA, ahead of examination). It then becomes an issue for the appeal but obviously an up to date Local Plan with a proven 5 year housing land supply provides the strongest context (and thankfully was the situation in our case, leading to one live appeal being withdrawn at that point and another refused scheme not being appealed at all). These things have a habit of changing with time though, so if in our LP area the 5 year HLS drops in future then its possible there will be fresh interest in new applications.

    A NP which has not even reached submission stage carries next to no weight at all. A local appeal was allowed on that basis as we’d only just started preparing the NP at that point. The local after effect of that appeal decision was sudden and rapid pressure to get the NP to submission, as you can imagine!

    Profile photo of Francis

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your query on weight of neighbourhood plans.

    Regarding your question on how much weight should be given to an emerging neighbourhood plan, it is not possible to prescribe a general specific amount of weight for all emerging neighbourhood plans. The amount of weight an emerging neighbourhood plan has varies on a case by case basis and therefore when considering the weight to be given to an emerging neighbourhood plan when assessing a planning application, it is not a matter of law to determine weight, but rather planning judgement.

    In the case of an emerging neighbourhood plan, in an area where there is an emerging local plan also, the decision maker when attempting to determine any weight would likely look at whether the emerging neighbourhood plan policies seem to reflect the evidence gathered for the emerging local plan. Where there is a conflict between the emerging local plan and emerging neighbourhood plan, this would likely be investigated further.

    It is true that where a neighbourhood plan has been made for an area with an out of date 5 year housing supply, or where there is uncertainty around the figure, the relevant policies in the neighbourhood plan may carry less weight than for neighbourhood plans in areas where there is an up to date 5 year housing supply. However, this does not mean that these policies carry no weight at all and it very much depends on a case by case basis. For example, Mr Justice Lindblom in Crane v SSCLG [2015] EWHC 425 was presented with a challenge to a decision made by the Secretary of State for a proposal for 111 residential dwellings in Broughton Astley in Leicestershire in an area which was not allocated for housing in the neighbourhood plan. The Secretary of State had refused planning permission on the basis that the development was in conflict with the neighbourhood plan, even though the local authority did not have a 5 year land supply and both the local plan and neighbourhood plan were out of date under the NPPF. In this case Mr Justice upheld the decision of the Secretary of State to refuse the planning permission.

    Mr Justice Lindblom noted that in relation to the NPPF paragraph 14 and weighting, it is not a matter of law but of planning judgment. Mr Justice also noted that neither paragraph 49 nor paragraph 14 of the NPPF advises that policies for the supply of housing should be given no weight or minimal weight or any specific amount of weight. Instead the critical consideration for him in this case was whether the harm associated with the proposed development “significantly and demonstrably” outweighed any benefit, or that there are specific policies in the NPPF which indicate that development should be restricted. Mr Justice stated that the Secretary of State had not made a mistake in determining that the proposed development was in conflict with the neighbourhood plan even though the core strategy’s policies were out-of-date.

    This example illustrates that neighbourhood plans can still have teeth and are not meaningless, even if there is no up to date 5 year supply of deliverable housing sites, as how much weight should be given to a plan with housing policies that are out of date is a matter of planning judgement.

    Through our extensive work with neighbourhood planning groups, this is our understanding of the situation, however it is not formal advice/guidance; and is not a substitute for your own professional/legal advice.


    Profile photo of Bill Reay
    Bill Reay

    We are at the pre-submission stage of our NDP. Our District Council’s Allocation Plan (5yr HLS) is undergoing examination with the outcome due in a few months time (shades of Chilcott!). Our NDP conforms to the Plan under examination. My question is this, “Should we proceed with the pre-submission examination, or, wait until the outcome of the Allocation Plan?”

    I am aware of a recent Parliamentary Briefing Document’Neighbourhood Planning'(No.05838 dated 14th March 2016) – attached, which says it has clarified this situation of where there is no up-to-date local Plan. I reproduce the relevant section here:-
    “Can a Neighbourhood Plan come forward before an up-to-date Local Plan is in place?
    Neighbourhood plans, when brought into force, become part of the development plan for the neighbourhood area. They can be developed before or at the same time as the local planning authority is producing its Local Plan.
    A draft neighbourhood plan or Order must be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the development plan in force if it is to meet the basic condition. Although a draft Neighbourhood Plan or Order is not tested against the policies in an emerging Local Plan the reasoning and evidence informing the Local Plan process is likely to be relevant to the consideration of the basic conditions against which a neighbourhood plan is tested. For example, up-to-date housing needs evidence is relevant to the question of whether a housing supply policy in a neighbourhood plan or Order contributes to the achievement of sustainable development.
    Where a neighbourhood plan is brought forward before an up-to-date Local Plan is in place the qualifying body and the local planning authority should discuss and aim to agree the relationship between policies in:
    • the emerging neighbourhood plan
    • the emerging Local Plan
    • the adopted development plan
    • with appropriate regard to national policy and guidance.
    The local planning authority should take a proactive and positive approach, working collaboratively with a qualifying body particularly sharing evidence and seeking to resolve any issues to ensure the draft neighbourhood plan has the greatest chance of success at independent examination.
    The local planning authority should work with the qualifying body to produce complementary neighbourhood and Local Plans. It is important to minimise any conflicts between policies in the neighbourhood plan and those in the emerging Local Plan, including housing supply policies. This is because section 38(5) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires that 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. Neighbourhood plans should consider providing indicative delivery timetables, and allocating reserve sites to ensure that emerging evidence of housing need is addressed. This can help minimise potential conflicts and ensure that policies in the neighbourhood plan are not overridden by a new Local Plan.8
    There are also sections in the Planning Practice Guidance on how planning applications should be decided where the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supple of deliverable housing sites, in relation to:
    • An emerging neighbourhood plan; and
    • A made neighbourhood plan.
    These sections were introduced following the Government’s proposal in the November 2015 Autumn Statement to ensure that local communities could allocate land for housing through neighbourhood plans, even if that land is not allocated in the local plan.”

    Any suggestions as to wether we should proceed,or,await the outcome the Local Allocation Plan?

    Bill Reay

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