Last month, communities minister Don Foster announced a £9.5 million two-year fund to support people in hundreds of areas across the country in creating neighbourhood plans to shape development in their area. Groups of residents will be able to bid for up to £7000, and will take charge of local decisions such as the location of new housing and businesses.
More than 500 communities across England are making use of the new neighbourhood planning powers that for the first time enable them to benefit from plans that have real statutory weight in the system. Today’s funding will support many of these, as well as new communities going forward.
Don Foster said: “This government is all about giving power back to people locally to allow them to shape their community, and these powers are kicking in… This funding will provide practical help to people to make neighbourhood plans a reality in their community.”
The programme will be delivered by Locality, supported by a range of partners including Royal Town Planning Institute, and the Community Development Foundation.
The neighbourhood plans will allow communities to decide the future of where they live. It will allow them to choose what facilities they want, where they want them, and what they should look like. Communities will also have the power to grant or deny planning permission. The process begins with the devising of draft plans, which are consulted on locally and then passed on to an independent examiner. Following this, plans are submitted to a local referendum, and if approved will go on to form a part of the local authority development plans, carrying real legal weight in planning decisions.
Full details of the development plan funding will be available on the ‘My Community Rights’ website from 15 April and applications can be submitted for grants and support from 1 May.