So far Neighbourhood Development Plans have been slow to take off: There have only been 3 plans which have made it to the publicity and examination stage and only one plan has passed this stage to hold a referendum (held on 7 March). However, since the incentive of being rewarded with a higher percentage of CIL receipts was announced, this number is likely to increase. Here are some details of some of the most developed plans to date:
Upper Eden NDP
Upper Eden NDP became the country's first adopted neighbourhood plan. The referendum was held on 7 March and the plan was approved by over 90% of the voters, with 1,310 votes in favour and 138 votes against. The plan sets out proposals for an average development rate of 40 homes a year, a total of 545 homes over the plan period to 2025. Other policies include relaxing constraints on rural affordable housing, incentivising developers to provide more housing for older people and improving broadband provision. The development rate, which amounts to a house or two every few years for most parishes, will allow smaller villages to grow on their own terms and help them become sustainable. This draft plan covers 17 parishes, making it one of the largest in the country.
This plan became the third in the country to be submitted to a local authority for examination, after Dawlish and Upper Eden submitted theirs. The plan has just passed the examination stage, which means that the independent examiner was satisfied that the plan meets the basic conditions as set out in the Localism Act 2011. As part of this examination, a hearing was held on 19 February 2013. The referendum is to be held on 2 May 2013.
The 15-year plan for Thame is the first neighbourhood plan to allocate sites for future development, including land for 775 new homes in line with the district’s core strategy. It also sets out policies for three hectares of new employment land and up to 5,700 square metres of new retail in the town centre.
This plan was rejected as "unsound" by the examiner, who said the plan wasn’t justified - as there was no district-wide local plan in place, the NDP could not be judged as having used objectively assessed evidence of a housing need. Around 400 people helped draw up the plan which included 900 new homes, more green spaces and more protection for wildlife. The examiner also stated the NDP may not be "justified" given there was no clear audit trail for judgements made by the steering group responsible for preparing the plan.