Planning policy

Neighbourhood planning

Neighbourhood planning was introduced by the Localism Act 2011, giving parish and town councils and their communities the opportunity to decide the future of their area by drawing up a Neighbourhood Plan or a Neighbourhood Development Order. These plans give opportunities to:                   

  • choose where you want new homes, shops and offices to be built                   
  • have your say on what new buildings should look like                   
  • grant planning permission for the new buildings you want to see go ahead

A Neighbourhood Plan is a community led framework for guiding the future development, regeneration and conservation of an area. They have a different status to other community led plans. Subject to a few basic conditions they will become legally binding and will become part of the development plan for the area. These conditions include:

  • they must have approval through a local referendum;
  • they must take account of national planning policy
  • they must conform generally to the needs for strategic development set out in existing Local Plans (previously the Local Development Framework)
  • they cannot provide less development than existing Local Plans but could propose additional development if appropriate

The process of producing a Neighbourhood Plan brings together residents, businesses, landowners and local groups. These different groups will need to work together to build a consensus and plan the future of their local area, My community rights  is a useful website which sets out the steps that parish and town councils will need to follow.

Once a community has made the decision to progress with a Neighbourhood Plan, the first step is for the parish or town council to make an application to us which requests that a 'neighbourhood area' is designated. Once a neighbourhood area is designated, the parish will be allocated a planning officer who will provide one to one support and technical advice throughout the production of the Neighbourhood Plan.

Information on rural profiling is included in the Housing section and this can help parish and town councils make informed decisions about housing need. To explore in further detail the commitment, resources and process involved in the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan, contact us at neighbourhood.planning@westsuffolk.gov.uk or telephone 01284 757368.

Neighbourhood Development Order

A Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO) grants planning permission for a particular type of development in a neighbourhood area, for example housing or offices. NDOs can grant planning permission, therefore getting rid of the need for a standard planning application to the local planning authority. The NDO:

  • needs to meet some minimum standards, and must be approved by the community, before it can come into force
  • must be passed to the local authority which will check that it has been properly consulted on, and that the development does not need an Environmental Impact Assessment
  • will be assessed by an independent examiner, who will check that it conforms to national and local planning policies
  • will be subject to a local referendum, if the examiner approves the order if a majority vote in favour of the NDO in the referendum, then it will come into force.

Once a community has made the decision to progress with a NDO, the first step is for the parish or town council to make an application to us which requests that a 'neighbourhood area' is designated. Once a neighbourhood area is designated, the parish will be allocated a planning officer who will provide one to one support and technical advice throughout the production of the NDO.

If you wish to explore in further detail the commitment, resources and process involved in the preparation of a NDO, please contact us at neighbourhood.planning@westsuffolk.gov.uk or telephone 01284 757368.