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What is a Neighbourhood Development Plan and why do it?
Herefordshire Council has produced and adopted a core strategy which describes the planning policies for the county until the year 2031 and it is against this set of policies that planning applications are considered.
The core strategy and other documents describe in broad detail what will be done and how, but do not provide all the local details – this is where Neighbourhood Development Plans come in.
For example, the core strategy sets out that in rural areas such as the parish of Allensmore, there will be a growth of around 14% of housing over the term of the plan. Given the number of approvals already granted, this equates to around 15 new houses between now and 2031. However, the core strategy doesn’t specify the areas of the parish where these houses can be built, nor what sort of housing it would be.
An NDP would ask for the views of people living here and could specify settlement areas in the parish to define where this development could and could not take place. It could also express views on what type of housing (e.g. size, style, built in clusters or single premises etc.) is preferred. Once adopted, the NDP has legal status and its contents must be taken into account when planning applications are considered. In other words, it gives us, this community, more control about the developments that will happen here over the next 15 years or so.
It is important to note that an NDP cannot contradict the core strategy nor be used to prevent development, but it adds more detail such as where and what sort of developments are permitted and what they should look like – based on what the community decides it wants.
The NDP can include topics such as settlement boundaries (areas in the parish outside of which new housing developments will not be permitted), allocation of sites for housing and/or employment, the design of buildings (style, size, materials, eco standards, affordability etc.) and protection of open spaces or important building and their surroundings.
See Herefordshire council’s website for much more detailed information.
What does it take to do one of these plans, and what happens if we don’t?
There are currently around 100 of these NDP plans in various stages of development around the county (just a very few completed so far). Grants are available to the Parish Council which should be sufficient to cover the costs, and by having an adopted plan the parish would receive a little more income from the Community Infrastructure Levy than it would otherwise receive.
If the Parish Council doesn’t choose to go this route, then with limited consultation, Herefordshire Council will produce a Rural Site Allocation Plan which would define the settlement boundaries and allocate possible sites on our behalf.
There is no doubt that producing an NDP requires a considerable amount of work and is not a quick process, typically taking 18 – 30 months. Once the plan is developed and approved by Herefordshire Council and an external inspector, there will be a referendum of the people in the area to determine if it is adopted.