Through the Localism Act the government is giving local communities powers to have a direct say in the future development of their neighbourhood, parish or town. A Neighbourhood Plan is a planning document that guides and shapes development in the local area and is created by local people.

Neighbourhood Plans are about local development issues. For example where new homes and shops should go, or what places should look like. They will have a focus on guiding development rather than stopping it.

Neighbourhood Plans need to be in general conformity with national policy and the Doncaster Local Plan.

See Neighbourhood Plans - Latest News for up-to-date information about the plans currently in progress.

A map showing designated/proposed Neighbourhood Plan areas can be viewed on the Neighbourhood Plans Interactive Map.

Are communities required to have a Neighbourhood Plan?

No, communities can decide if they want a plan or not. Our Local Plan will still be used to determine planning applications so communities without a Neighbourhood Plan will not be left vulnerable to unwanted development.

There have been opportunities for communities to be involved in producing the Local Plan, and Review of the Local Plan will also be subject to consultation; so a community may be able to influence development decisions in their area without producing a plan. Please refer to the 'Neighbourhood Plan Information Pack' (in the Downloads and Resources section) for further guidance to help you decide whether you think a Neighbourhood Plan is right for your area or contact the planning policy team at the council.

Who will prepare them?

  • town and parish councils or in areas where there is none a community group in the form of a neighbourhood forum - the forum should be made up of a minimum of 21 people who live or work in the area
  • the Neighbourhood Plan needs to be supported by the majority of the community before it can be adopted and so a referendum will be held
  • Neighbourhood Plans will also be independently checked in order for it to be adopted

What areas can be covered by a Neighbourhood Plan?

  • any area can have a Neighbourhood Plan
  • they can cross local authority boundaries although they should not overlap with other parishes or neighbourhoods who may also wish to prepare a plan for their area
  • if the area is very small such as one street it may be suggested joining with other neighbourhoods to create a larger area
  • we will need to agree with the community the area the plan will cover

How much work will be required to produce a Neighbourhood Plan?

  • the level of work required will largely depend on how much detail the plan goes into
  • it will be the parish/town council or neighbourhood forum who determine the amount of work they need to do, but it could be a lengthy task preparing a plan
  • there are also statutory requirements of things which need to be covered by the plan
  • we have a duty to provide technical and practical support to the plan making process, but as this is new and untried, it will be a learning process for all of those involved
  • it is expected Neighbourhood Plans will take approximately two years from start to finish

Do Neighbourhood Plans require Sustainability Appraisals/Habitat Regulation Assessments/Strategic Environmental Assessments?

The council has produced guidance on the requirements for Sustainability Appraisals/Habitat Regulation Assessments/Strategic Environmental Assessments in the preparation of Neighbourhood Development Plans:

Neighbourhood Plans Assessment Guidance
Download (419KB - PDF)

Neighbourhood Development Plans are not required to have a sustainability appraisal undertaken on them but impacts still need to be considered as part of good planning.

A Neighbourhood Development Plan may require a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and/or a Habitat Regulation Assessment – but this will depend on the content of the neighbourhood plan.

The guidance note explains the assessments which are advised and/or required to be undertaken in relation to Neighbourhood Plans and what needs to be done to establish this.

Can we stop development from happening in our area?

No, a Neighbourhood Plan can guide development to be more appropriate to local needs and help decide where it goes, but the government has made it clear it is not a tool to be used to stop development.

Do town and parish councils or neighbourhood forums make the final decision on planning applications in their area if they have a Neighbourhood Plan?

No, the decision making on planning applications is the responsibility of the Local Planning Authority. The community leads on preparing the plan and setting out the policies for development in their area but it is the Local Planning Authority that will give planning permission in accordance with those policies.

Unlike many of the parish, village or town plans produced in the past, a Neighbourhood Plan becomes a formal part of the planning system. It forms part of the development plan used in determining planning applications. Planning applications will need to be decided against the Local Plan, any appropriate Neighbourhood Pans, and any other materials considerations.

A plan has already been developed for my Parish, can this be made a neighbourhood plan?

No. There are specific processes and procedures you will need to undertake to produce a Neighbourhood Plan. However, that does not mean to say that work undertaken as part of a parish plan or Village Design Statement can not be used or revised in whole or in part and included within a Neighbourhood Plan, if this is the most appropriate and effective way of addressing the community's development issues.

Is there anything to stop people with a business interest from being part of a forum and how will the system be maintained to ensure fairness?

  • builders and developers and others with a commercial interest are able to be part of a neighbourhood forum as long as they live or work in the area covered by the plan
  • Forums will be bound by a written constitution
  • it will be the responsibility of individual parish and town councils or neighbourhood forums to ensure that the plan making process is open and transparent
  • personal and business interests should be declared at the outset

If we have a Neighbourhood Plan does this mean that we don't have to use the local plan?

No - the Local Plan be used to determine planning applications. Neighbourhood Plans will form a new tier of planning at very local level. They need to conform to the Local Plan but will form part of the development plan for their area.

What weight will be given to Neighbourhood Plans in planning decisions?

When adopted, Neighbourhood Plans will be statutory planning documents. They will form part of the Local Plan and so will have significant weight in planning decisions.

Who will pay for the neighbourhood planning process?

It will be up to the parish or town council or local community group to pay for the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan. Doncaster Council will arrange and fund the examination of the Plan and the referendum.

All groups undertaking a neighbourhood plan or neighbourhood development order are eligible to apply for up to £10,000 in basic grant support. Groups facing more complex issues may be eligible for an additional grant of up to £8,000 (certain criteria). Additional Grant Funding is also available for groups who are wishing to bring forward affordable housing for sale, of up to £10,000 (in addition to the basic grant) giving a maximum grant to support your neighbourhood plan of £28,000.

Information on Grant Funding, Technical Support and the eligibility criteria can be found on the Locality Neighbourhood Planning website.

Will we have to employ specialists to support our Neighbourhood Plan at examination?

  • no - a Neighbourhood Plan can include as few or as many planning policies as the community wants and can relate to all or just part of the neighbourhood area
  • similarly a Neighbourhood Development Order can grant planning permission for major development schemes, a few new houses, a new shop or pub, or permit extensions of a certain size or scale across the whole neighbourhood area. These are flexible tools
  • the amount of evidence that needs to be produced will depend on the scale and ambitions of the Neighbourhood Plan or Neighbourhood Development Order
  • there is no tick-box list of evidence which will automatically be required for all plans
  • the Plan or Order may be able to use existing available evidence such as that used by the local authority in its local plan preparation

What is the role of the Local Planning Authority?

We have a duty to provide technical advice and support to communities producing a Neighbourhood Plan. We also:

  • agree the composition and designate neighbourhood forums
  • agree the boundary of the area to be covered by a Neighbourhood Plan
  • organise the independent examination of the Neighbourhood Plan and arrange and fund the referendum
  • formally adopt the Neighbourhood Plan and bring it into force

The Neighbourhood Planning 'Neighbourhood Plan Information Pack' (in the Downloads and Resources section) provides more information on the role of Doncaster Council.

Have some neighbourhoods already started work on Neighbourhood Planning?

Yes, some neighbourhoods have started to think about working together and making a plan for their community. However, the regulations that provide more details about how the plan should be made are due shortly.

See Neighbourhood Plans - Latest News for up-to-date information about the plans currently in progress.

How do I get involved in Neighbourhood Planning?

The first step is to contact your parish or town council to see if they are already considering producing a Neighbourhood Plan. If you are not a resident in an area with a town or parish council, you might start by talking to neighbourhood groups in your area and decide if you would like to create a neighbourhood forum and begin work on a Neighbourhood Plan. The Neighbourhood Planning 'Neighbourhood Plan Information Pack' (see the Downloads and Resources section) contains further issues to consider.

Referendum regulations

The Localism Act 2011 set out that local referendums must be held before Neighbourhood Plans can come into force. The Government has now published Regulations for Neighbourhood Planning Referendums.

Where can I get further information?

A list of key web-resources is indicated below to help you think about neighbourhood planning, the list is not exhaustive but provides an initial starting point. The council will publish further guidance on this page in due course.

The links below will take you to external websites and documents which contain background information, guidance and advice in relation to Neighbourhood Planning. This will help you to decide whether or not a Neighbourhood Plan is the right tool for you to use in helping plan the future of your area. We would also recommend you speak to the council planning officers before deciding whether or not to submit an application for a neighbourhood plan via:


Department of Communities and Local Government 

A plain English version of the Localism Act which introduces the Neighbourhood Planning powers
Download (259KB)

The Planning Portal

Planning Advisory Service

Neighbourhood Planning Support

Design Council CABE Neighbourhood Planning web resources

  • CABE website - a useful web resource including a wide range of information such as:
    • briefings, questions and answers and short summaries relating to Neighbourhood Planning
    • practical guidance on ways to engage communities
    • examples of approaches to community/neighbourhood planning
    • academic research
    • discussion forums and other information links
Last updated: 25 April 2024 07:08:00