Neighbourhood planning is one of the government’s flagship policies for devolving power and decision-making to local communities. The government wants communities to become more self-reliant and to take advantage of new powers that are available to them under the 2011 Localism Act to improve their local areas, including neighbourhood planning.
- Although the take up of neighbourhood planning across England since the Localism Act came into force in 2011 has been extensive – around 1650 areas are currently involved in neighbourhood planning – it is by no means universal, nor is it equally distributed across the country
- Urban areas in particular have been slow to take up the right with only 11% of neighbourhood plan areas in urban areas and only 15% in the most deprived 25% of local authority areas.
- A neighbourhood plan can put in place a statutory planning policy framework for a designated area. Drawn up by a local Council or Neighbourhood Forum, with support from a local authority, Neighbourhood Plans can be a powerful way of local communities exercising more control over development in their areas
- Achieving a Neighbourhood Plan’s aims depends on suitable schemes being brought forward by private developers, public bodies, not-for-profit organisations, partnerships – or in an increasing number of situations - through community-led development
- There are real benefits in considering community-led housing or other kinds of community-led development during the preparation of the neighbourhood plan or immediately after a plan is made
There are many reasons why a community might want to focus on community-led housing as part of a Neighbourhood Plan for their area:
- A Neighbourhood Plan helps communities make decisions on what type of housing they need, where it should be built and who should occupy it
- It can include policies around affordability, local lettings and retaining homes as community assets ‘in perpetuity’
- It can identify specific sites for housing development and specify a proportion of them to be affordable and available to local people ‘in perpetuity’, for example through resale price covenants
The Right to Build Toolkit has a useful section on ‘How Neighbourhood Planning can encourage private homebuilding”, which may be useful if self-build is envisaged as part of any community-led housing scheme
The Lawrence Weston community in Bristol also has an approved Neighbourhood Development Plan which has a focus on community-led housing, particularly custom and self build. There is more information on their Plan and how it was put together here and here