Yesterday DCLG published a consultation and set of draft regulations on neighbourhood planning. The consultation paper is very short and sweet and the regulations make easy reading. Essentially the draft regulations set out the information communities must provide when seeking to establish a neighbourhood, a neighbourhood forum or a community right to build organisation and when putting proposals forward to the local planning authority for a neighbourhood plan and/or a neighbourhood development order (including a community right to build order).
The approach is, in the words of the consultation paper "light touch" with many decisions being left for local planning authorities to come to themselves e.g.the procedure they adopt when deciding whether or not to accept a community group as a neighbourhood forum (which then allows that forum to bring forward formal proposals for a neighbourhood plan and/or a development order).
There is also some further funding available for local planning authorities seeking to join the "front runners" list and take steps to develop neighbourhood planning in their area.
When neighbourhood planning was first presented in the Localism Bill there was a good deal of scepticism about whether it would be taken up by communities. However, judging from some of the conversations I have had with authorities and others recently, I can see its principles becoming more understood and accepted.
Given the appeal decisions we blogged about last week, when the Secretary of State gave real weight to steps taken by the relevant local authorities in connection with localism, local planning authorities may well be putting further resource into neighbourhood planning either in its own right, or further advancing their work in ensuring community influence in the district level local plan itself.