Neighbourhood Planning


Ealing Broadway Centre

What is a neighbourhood plan?

The correct name is a "Neighbourhood Development Plan", and as this implies it is about planning change and development for a local area.

The Localism Act introduced the concept of "Neighbourhood Planning", which aims to give people greater ownership of plans and policies that affect their neighbourhood. It enables local people to put together ideas for development, relating to land use or spatial planning.

What is "spatial planning"?

The Royal Town Planning Institute explains that spatial planning is also called 'place shaping'. It goes wider than traditional control of how land is used. It's about identifying a vision for the future of a place which responds to local needs and circumstances, including community views, and has to be based on evidence. The plan converts this vision into priorities, policies and the identification of land for development.

How is a neighbourhood plan created?

There is no set method for putting a neighbourhood plan together. It does require a Neighbourhood Forum to be set up, which represents the local community. In Ealing, there are presently two Forums -one each for Central Ealing and West Ealing Centre - covering an area on either side of the Uxbridge Road, which have been officially recognised. In both cases, the area has been designated a "business area", which means that local businesses take part alongside residents and community bodies as stakeholders.

The Forums have to decide what they want to see in their plan, after consulting local people, businesses and community interests. The plan must be broadly in accordance with the Council's spatial strategy, which identifies what and how much development is needed to meet local needs such as housing, and broadly where it should be concentrated.

How is it approved?

Once the Forum have completed its work, including local consultation and the preparation of all the necessary evidence, the plan is checked by the Council and then submitted to public examination by an independent Inspector. If it passes the tests of
  • having regard to national planning policy - particularly concerning sustainable development;
  • being in general conformity with the Council's strategic policies in the development plan; and
  • being compatible with EU obligations and human rights requirements it is then put to local voters and businesses in two separate referendums. It must gain a majority in both votes to be accepted.
How does it come into force?

Once adopted, this plan forms part of the statutory development plan controlled by the Local Planning Authority (in our case, the London Borough of Ealing). All individual planning applications for specific sites within the area can then be judged against the wider community objective or vision, so it has to be used by the Council when deciding whether or not to grant planning permission.

How are individual measures within the plan implemented?

Spatial planning creates a framework for private investment and regeneration. A local neighbourhood plan does not by itself mean that developments which it identifies as desirable for the area will necessarily happen. The NP needs to be accompanied by a delivery plan which shows how it could be implemented, so one of the tests by which it is judged is whether it is achievable. It does however provide a way in which local people can be express their wishes for how the area should develop, in con junction with local businesses.

A Neighbourhood Forum can also suggest or sponsor specific projects which it would like to see implemented in the area, such as the provision of equipment in a local play area, which are not matters of spatial planning. These however would not be part of the statutory plan itself, and would be kept separate from the issues to go through the approval process.

10 February 2013