A Neighbourhood Plan

A Neighbourhood Plan for Riding Mill

Broomhaugh & Riding Parish Council is considering whether to prepare a neighbourhood plan for the parish. Neighbourhood Plans were introduced by the Localism Act and can be a powerful tool for communities to have their say over how and where they want development in their areas to take place. As well as directing development, they can also identify and protect things which are important to the community, such as local green space, community facilities or heritage. Once a neighbourhood plan is brought into force, it will be used to help determine planning applications in the area it covers.

In Northumberland, neighbourhood plans are created by parish or town councils and set out planning policies for the development and use of land in their area. These can be either general or site-specific policies but cannot block development already agreed through the Northumberland Local Plan.

The Neighbourhood plan process

The process of preparing a neighbourhood plan is set out in legislation and there are a number of steps that a plan must go through for it to be ‘made’ (brought into legal force). These are set out below:

  • Stage one: area designation
    Neighbourhood planning activity can only take place in areas specifically designated ‘neighbourhood areas’. The Parish Council must submit an area designation application to the County Council.
  • Stage two: preparing a neighbourhood plan
    The way in which neighbourhood plans are prepared will be decided by the Parish Council. In most cases, a steering group will be established to lead preparation of the plan. This would typically involve: gathering information about the neighbourhood area and engaging with the community to identify local aspirations and priorities; identifying a vision for the neighbourhood area;  setting out a clear purpose for a plan including identifying objectives to be achieved through the plan; and drafting planning policies to help deliver the objectives of the plan

Once prepared, the draft plan must be subject to a six-week period of consultation. This will include consulting national bodies as set out in legislation.

Following the consultation period, all comments received must be considered and any amendments thought to be necessary must be made to the plan before it is submitted to the County Council.

  • Stage three: submit the plan
    Once the plan has been submitted to the County Council, it will be checked to make sure it meets legal requirements.

This information will be publicised for a minimum of six weeks and any comments submitted will be sent directly to an independent examiner.

  • Stage four: independent examination
    The independent examination will consider whether the plan meets a set of ‘basic conditions’ set out in legislation. They will produce a report detailing their findings and make recommendations about the draft plan including whether it should be put to referendum in the local area.
  • Stage five: referendum

The County Council will publish the examiner’s report and, where recommended, will organise a local referendum. For the plan to be adopted, it must receive majority support from the local community. If more than 50% vote in favour, the County Council must bring it into force.

The Parish Council is keen to find out if any members of the community would be keen to get involved, whether it’s getting involved in consultation with the community, coming up with ideas of what we would like to see in the Plan, or even helping write the plan itself.

There are already a number of successful Neighbourhood Plans in Northumberland and preparing a plan for Riding Mill could be a real opportunity to try to shape the area for the future.

For more information or to register your interest, please contact Catherine Harrison, the Parish Clerk, via email: ridingmillclerk@gmail.com

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