As everyone gets back from holiday and we all settle into the ‘new term’ it is clear that the Government is making Neighbourhood Plans one of its top priorities for planning reforms.

The 2016 Housing and Planning Act includes various proposals for making things quicker and simpler, and some powers have already been brought in. Last Friday the Government published its response to the consultation replies received on Neighbourhood Planning in the Technical consultation and made it clear that it wants new regulations in place next month, designed to achieve the following:

  • Reduction in local planning authority discretion on the area to be designated;
  • Shorter periods for local authorities in terms of decision making on whether the draft neighbourhood plan or Order meets the basic conditions and other legal tests , making representations on examiner reports, implementing referenda and making plans.

Government powers of intervention in the plan making process are also due to be implemented ”in the rare cases where a plan has passed examination but has been blocked by a local planning authority” although the Government has been clear that “this power would only be used in exceptional circumstances”.

Read more about Neighbourhood Planning in our article 'Independence Day for Neighbourhood Planning'.