Under the government’s localism agenda, local communities can now write planning policies for their own neighbourhood, by preparing a neighbourhood plan (also known as a neighbourhood development plan). When finalised, their neighbourhood plan will be used by the city council alongside its own planning documents to take decisions on planning applications in the area.
A neighbourhood plan cannot block the amount of development already identified for the neighbourhood. It can however influence where the development will go and what it might look like within certain criteria. This allows communities to take responsibility for the future of their area.
A neighbourhood plan is about local issues. For example, a plan could cover where new homes should go, what green spaces should be protected, or design requirements for new development. Local people can decide what will be included in their neighbourhood plan provided they do not undermine the approach in other wider city plans.
Preparing and producing a neighbourhood plan is a lengthy process that will require time, resources and commitment. You may also have to deal with difficult issues and it is unlikely that everyone in the community will be happy with the outcome.
Neighbourhood plan stages
As there are no parishes in Southampton, the process of producing a neighbourhood plans starts with a group of local people applying to be designated as the ‘neighbourhood forum’ for a specified ‘neighbourhood area’. This group will then progress the neighbourhood plan. (Please note that once a neighbourhood forum is designated no other organisation or body may be designated for that neighbourhood area until the designation expires or is withdrawn). The stages in preparing a neighbourhood plan are set out below.
- Community approaches council with a proposal for a neighbourhood plan
- Application for approval of the neighbourhood area
- Application for approval of the neighbourhood forum
- Plan prepared by the community with support and advice from the council
- Initial community engagement for a minimum of six weeks
- Plan refined and modified with support and advice from the council
- Formal community engagement for minimum six weeks
- Neighbourhood plan submitted to the council to check it meets procedural rules
- Independent examination
- Local referendum on the neighbourhood plan
- Adoption of neighbourhood plan by the council
For more information on setting up a neighbourhood forum, designating a neighbourhood area or preparing a neighbourhood plan, please see the resident information document. There are also more resources and case studies on neighbourhood planning on the locality website.
Current neighbourhood plan activity in Southampton
The Bassett Neighbourhood Plan was 'made' (adopted) by the council on Wednesday 20 July 2016. Further information about the plan is available on the Bassett Neighbourhood Plan webpage.