On 26th September 2017, Ruddington Parish Council unanimously voted to start work on a Neighbourhood Plan. At the time of launching this website, the Neighbourhood Plan Project Team was well under way, with early plans for initial consultation events, and an agreement to employ a planning consultancy to assist in production of the Plan. But what is a Neighbourhood Plan? Why do we need one? The differences between a Neighbourhood Plan, the Local Plan, and even Ruddington’s own Village Plan can be confusing.

Local Plan

Paragraph 153 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires that each planning authority (in Ruddington’s case, Rushcliffe Borough Council and the County Council) should prepare a Local Plan for its area. Local Plans provide the framework for future development and address the needs and opportunities of communities. Rushcliffe’s Local Plan, for example, includes policies in relation to housing, employment and shops and indicates where such development should take place. The County Council produces similar local plans covering minerals and waste development and all local plans, once adopted, form part of the ‘development plan’ for the area. Local Plans must contribute to the achievement of sustainable development, and be consistent with the principles and policies in the government’s National Planning Policy Framework. In essence, Local Plans should set out what the opportunities are for development in the area, and say what will and will not be permitted and where. Local Plans are at the heart of the planning system and an important consideration in deciding planning applications. They set the framework in which decisions on particular proposals are taken locally. The law makes it clear that decisions on planning applications should be made in accordance with the policies and proposals within the development plan unless other strong planning reasons or ‘material considerations’ indicate otherwise. Read more about the Rushcliffe Borough Council Local Plan here and the County Council’s Mineral and Waste Local Plans here.

Neighbourhood Plan

Neighbourhood Plans were introduced by the Localism Act 2011. They empower communities to shape the development and growth of a local area. Once adopted, they become part of the Development Plan, and contribute to planning application decisions in that area as well as protecting green spaces. A Neighbourhood Plan cannot block development that is already part of the Local Plan, but it can shape where that development will go and what it will look like.

Village Plan

Village Plans can help a community assess current and future potential issues, think about all aspects of community life in an area, and set out a plan of action. Despite a Village Plan not having the formal weight of a Neighbourhood Plan and not having any legal influence over development, a Village Plan is evidence of a strong community that has given clear thought to its needs. Find out more about our Village Plan at the Village Plan website, and follow its progress on Facebook, Twitter, and in the The Rudd.

Similarities and Differences

The main difference between Village Plans and Neighbourhood Plans is that Neighbourhood Plans concern writing planning policies for the allocation of land and the protection of the environment and local amenity. A key benefit can be the community infrastructure that may be delivered through development. There is also an added complexity and expense to Neighbourhood Plans due to their statutory requirements. A Neighbourhood Plan becomes a part of the development plan, but it is fundamentally about our village, as is the Village Plan.

How are they similar?
  • Both help communities to take action for themselves so they can bring about local improvements.
  • Both can be used to alert policy makers to local issues and gain support for projects.
  • Both can help our community consider the need for land use development such as new housing or infrastructure.
How are they different?
  • The Village Plan has no formal statutory weight and cannot be used to create planning policies or grant permission for development.
  • A Neighbourhood Plan could focus on just one issue or action, whereas the Village Plan encouraged residents to think about the wellbeing and sustainability of our community as a whole.
  • Due to the statutory weight afforded to a Neighbourhood Plan, its preparation can be more complex, time-consuming and costly than preparing the Village Plan.
Issue Neighbourhood Plan Village Plan
Content A Neighbourhood Plan must contain policies on the development and use of land. It can contain as many or as few policies as we like, and it can be focussed around particular issues. It doesn’t need to cover every aspect of planning if we so wish. The Village Plan includes practical actions on which we can work together to bring about tangible change. It addresses a wide range of social and environmental issues, including housing, transport, commerce, health, policing, leisure, and so on.
Restrictions A Neighbourhood Plan must conform with Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Local Plan, and with national planning policy and guidance. It cannot be used to stop development or to seek a lower level of development than is set out in the Borough Council’s Local Plan or the government’s National Planning Policy Framework. The Village Plan includes a comprehensive action plan, but it has no legal power to influence development.
Example Content Location and type of housing, affordable housing, regeneration of derelict land, design, infrastructure, green spaces, land use (location of employment, location of retail), conservation, specifications for development and type of use. Community spaces, waste and recycling, biodiversity, energy saving schemes, communications, community support, anti-social behaviour, dog fouling, education, transport
Preparation Costs A Neighbourhood Plan can cost anywhere between a few thousand pounds and tens of thousands, depending on the complexity of the Plan, the number of policies, and the use of paid planning consultants. A Village Plan does not need to cost much, and requires much less technical planning expertise. Most expenses are from consultation activities, questionnaires and printing costs.
Financial Support Financial support for a Neighbourhood Plan is based on its complexity and scope. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is offering grants of £9000 from 3rd April 2018, with additional funds provided by the Parish Council. Some financial support for the  Village Plan was provided through the Parish Council.
Direct Support Neighbourhood Plans benefit from direct support from a named Planning Officer from the local authority, providing assistance with statutory procedures and policy writing. A Planning Policy Officer from Rushcliffe Borough Council has been assigned to the Ruddington Neighbourhood Plan. A planning consultancy may be employed. Free planning advice is also offered by organisations including Locality and Planning Aid England. Support from the Parish Council and the Borough Council.
Statutory Weight Following independent examination and referendum, Neighbourhood Plans become part of the development plan, giving them considerable weight in determining planning applications. Village Plans have no formal weight, but they can be taken into account in determining planning applications if they cover issues that are material to planning considerations. They are useful for giving a community perspective on issues such as preferred sites, but they cannot be used to justify the approval or denial of planning applications.
Timescales Neighbourhood Plans can take anywhere between 18 months and three years to complete, sometimes longer. The process requires that the final draft plan is subjected to independent examination and referendum, before being adopted and becoming part of the development plan. The Village Plan took three years to complete, from inception, through questionnaires and consultations, to final adoption. It is now in a five year implementation and monitoring phase.

Benefits of a Neighbourhood Plan

  • Being part of the development plan, Neighbourhood Plans carry real legal weight. Planning applications and appeals are assessed against them.
  • With a Neighbourhood Plan in place, 25% of the revenues from the Community Infrastructure Levy arising from local development will be paid to the Parish Council, to be used on projects that will benefit the community
  • A Neighbourhood Plan can influence the location and types of development, subject to satisfactory evidence of need
  • A Neighbourhood Plan can specify design criteria for new buildings
  • A Neighbourhood Plan can identify necessary infrastructure, subject to satisfactory evidence of need
  • A Neighbourhood Plan can identify and protect green spaces
  • A Neighbourhood Plan can provide more detailed policies than the Local Plan, so long as they have general conformity with the Local Plan and national policy.