The New Year begins with a host of new issues to look out for, all of which are to be brought forward or implemented in 2017. In this update we deal with proposed changes to the law around neighbourhood plans.

A technical consultation on the detailed regulations to implement some of the neighbourhood planning measures in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill was published on 7 September 2016. The consultation was widely publicised and closed on 19 October 2016. The main proposals are:

Detailed procedures for modifying neighbourhood plans

Minor modifications will be made without the need for public consultation, examination or referendum. These are changes that do not materially affect any planning permission granted by a neighbourhood development order or the policies in a neighbourhood plan.

Significant modifications to a neighbourhood plan that are not so significant or substantial as to change the nature of the plan may be ‘paper based’ procedure. Hearing will only likely to take place in exceptional circumstances and there will be no referendum. The examiner will confirm the suitability of this streamlined procedure. Changes to the ‘nature of the plan’ will be subject to the full blown modification and revision procedure.

Modifying designated neighbourhood areas

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill will allow for an existing neighbourhood plan to remain in force, even where the boundaries of the area for which it was made are amended.  Or a new neighbourhood area is designated, provided that they require the independent examiner to consider whether the plan proposal would have any adverse consequences on an existing plan and, if so, what measures would mitigate the effects.

There will also be a requirement for local planning authorities to review their Statements of Community Involvement at regular intervals and to publish their policies on the advice and assistance they will give to neighbourhood planning groups.

Please contact Matt Gilks Head of Planning at Dutton Gregory for further information on m.gilks@duttongregory.co.uk or call 01962 844333. This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this web site are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting members of Dutton Gregory LLP (or their own legal counsel) regarding any specific legal issues.