No time limit for neighbourhood forum designation

Backdated from previous BA website

Source: By Michael Donnelly Thursday, 13 October 2011 Planning Magazine The coalition government does not intend to set a time limit for the period a local planning authority has to decide whether to designate a neighbourhood planning forum, a consultation reveals.

Under neighbourhood planning, which is a key part of the Localism Bill, local groups will be able to draw up neighbourhood plans, subject to a referendum, to set out the kind of development they want to prioritise. The plans will be brought forward by groups designated as neighbourhood forums and parish councils. Neighbourhood forums must be designated by local planning authorities.

But a consultation on draft neighbourhood planning regulations, published yesterday by the Department for Communities and Local Government, says that ministers will not set a time limit for local authorities to decide whether to designate neighbourhood forums.

The consultation says: “We are not setting a time limit for the period the local planning authority has to decide whether to designate a neighbourhood forum. We expect the decision to be made as soon as reasonably possible.”

The consultation document sets out the Government’s approach to the regulations which it says “should be workable and proportionate to their purpose”. It says the information required to take forward neighbourhood plans should be “the minimum necessary to enable a local planning authority or examiner to assess the proposals”.
For an application for the designation of a neighbourhood area, the document proposes that “this should simply consist of a plan or statement to indicate the proposed area, a statement of why this area is proposed and a statement that the group submitting the application is capable of being a qualifying body. These pieces of information are all needed to enable a local planning authority to make a decision about whether the proposed area is suitable”.

The document says that the government does not propose to prescribe “exactly how a local authority should make key decisions – for example whether by delegated officer, a full meeting of the full council or via the council’s executive, or whether there must be a majority vote at those council meetings in order for the decision to be valid. We believe this is for local planning authorities to decide”.

Decentralisation minister Greg Clark said: “For the first time local people will have a real voice in deciding the look and feel of development in their area through neighbourhood planning.

“Communities will be able to shape their own vision for the future as they see fit. They will be able to protect what makes their town or village special, including green spaces, and have their say on the design and location of new homes.

The Government has also published a guide to Neighbourhood Planning alongside the consultation. The consultation runs until 5 January 2012.

Neighbourhood planning regulations: Consultation can be read here.

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