The British Government has announced a support package worth £22.8 million to help communities in England develop plans to build more homes and have more say over growth in their area.
The funding, which will be around £5.5 million per year until 2022, will provide communities with specialist support to help develop a Neighbourhood Plan, including where homes, shops, green spaces and offices should be built and how they should look.
The announcement comes as more than 400 successful neighbourhood planning referendums have now taken place across England, driving local growth from Cornwall to Northumberland.
‘Neighbourhood planning gives communities a powerful set of tools to shape their area and drive local growth. The Government is committed to giving communities even more of a say in the development of their area, and that’s why we’re dedicating around £23 million between 2018 and 2022 to help groups create Neighbourhood Plans,’ said Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma.
Trudi Elliott, Royal Town Planning Institute chief executive, said the institute has worked directly with over 274 groups to help them develop neighbourhood plans since their inception.
‘We know how much people care about these plans and how important they are in shaping places and building public trust in the planning system. It’s also clear from our experience that people need support to make the plan-making experience easier and worthwhile, so this latest funding is very welcome,’ she added.
More measures to improve neighbourhood planning will be implemented later this year, as the Neighbourhood Planning Act comes into effect. This includes new rules to speed up and strengthen the popular neighbourhood planning process by simplifying how plans can be revised as local circumstances change.
Since 2012, over 2,200 groups have started the neighbourhood planning process, covering areas of nearly 12 million people across England. Over 400 successful neighbourhood planning referendums have now taken place, with an average ‘yes’ vote of 88%.
The Neighbourhood Planning Act contains measures improving the planning system to help deliver the government’s aim of making sure the housing market works for everyone and came into force in July.
The aim is to ensure the plans local people have worked hard to create are used as the starting point for determining planning applications up to 8 weeks earlier, following a successful referendum. The changes also mean that when local authorities are making planning decisions, they must respect emerging neighbourhood plans which have passed examination but not yet been agreed at a referendum.