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Neighbourhood Plans – How goes it, so far?

A Cheshire-based planning consultancy has been considering if ‘Neighbourhood Plans’ are yet to have an impact on the local decision making process.

Amanda Olley, Managing Director of North West-based Summit Planning Associates, believes that the challenges facing Local Authorities in bringing local policy in line with national policy, will impact upon timeframes for Neighbourhood Forums to adopt Neighbourhood Plans in the near future. This then leaves another question as to whether it will impact upon the willingness of the development industry to engage with Neighbourhood Forums, if involvement in the neighbourhood planning process provides no more certainty.

The ethos behind Neighbourhood Plans is to encourage development, whilst also handing power back to the people to have influence over the decision making process.

However since it’s inception, the Neighbourhood Plan has come under fire from developers, MPs and the general public alike.

A select committee called that Localism Act as a whole, inconsistent and incoherent, while developers were concerned that Neighbourhood Plans would simply be another hurdle added to the planning process, and dissuade projects rather than encourage them.

There have also been concerns that Neighbourhood Forums would simply use the new power to block development or create difficulties.

While it’s to soon to tell from even the forerunner Neighbourhood Forums if the Neighbourhood Plan will fulfil what it is set up to achieve, it’s fair to say that it has not caused half as many issues as were originally feared.

Chartered Town Planner Amanda Olley from Summit Associates believes that in this unstable period, time will tell if this element of the recent planning reforms will have the desired long-term effect.

Amanda stated: “If the Neighbourhood Planning process is going to stand a chance of anything close to success it is going to need patience in the short term. It will take time for the local plan process to pull itself in line with the national position before meaningful neighbourhood plans can truly come forward”.

She continued: “The over zealous pushing through of Neighbourhood Plans, simply to demonstrate implementation, will only end up with yet another tier of plan-making that is going to be out of date almost as immediately as it is adopted. This will not provide certainty for developers or for neighbourhood forums and will not contribute to the stimulation of economic growth”.

Amanda Olley has been a planning consultant for 12 years and is happy to assist with yourlocal planning requirements. Please contact her at Summit Planning Associates via Tel: 01625 801800 or E-Mail: