Colin Buchanan’s survey of local authorities revealed that more than a quarter intend to apply to become a Vanguard under the Governments Neighbourhood Planning initiative. Given the short timeframe for applications to be made to CLG for Vanguard status (by 14 February) , this indicates a positive, proactive response by Councils to embrace the new agenda. Survey responses were received from all of the English regions, including London. The respondents included a wide diversity of rural and urban areas, prosperous and deprived. It thus provides us with an interesting snapshot of current thinking and concerns at officer level.
Summary of the survey results are as follows:
A quarter of all local planning authorities (LPAs) that responded intend to apply for Neighbourhood Planning Vanguard status:
- 50% of these are entirely parished; 33% partially parished; 17% unparished.
A quarter of all LPAs that responded had received Expressions of Interest in producing Neighbourhood Plans / Orders from one or more neighbourhoods.
- These were a mix of urban and rural neighbourhoods (<50% exclusively rural).
Majority of respondents agree that Parishes, where they exist, are the most appropriate areas for Neighbourhood Planning.
- Number of authorities unclear how to define neighbourhoods in urban / suburban areas.
- A couple of authorities have identified potential tensions where different settlements in the same parish may have contrasting objectives.
90% of respondents intend to fulfil their duty to support neighbourhood planning through use of officers rather than appointing consultants or offer direct financial support.
- A large number of respondents have highlighted the resource implications of providing this support within the context of funding constraints.
- Many respondents see this as placing an additional burden on local authorities.
The majority (65%) of LPAs anticipate Neighbourhood Plans taking over one year to prepare, with more than one in five (23%) of respondents estimating they may take over 2 years.
- Some respondents consider that length of preparation will vary depending on the previous experience of the relevant Parish / Forum.
30% of respondents will consider preparing Neighbourhood Plans in advance of the adoption of a Core Strategy
- This raises questions about how such plans will be assessed.
- Will this provide more scope for communities to resist development (contrary to Government objectives)?
- A number of respondents anticipate some disappointment/ disillusionment when neighbourhoods realise that their plans must be in conformity with Core Strategy
- For many LPAs the LDF Core Strategy remains the priority.
- One authority noted that Neighbourhood Development Orders may be preferable depending on the objectives of the community as they should be easier and quicker to bring forward as they do not need to relate to an adopted or up-to-date plan.
48 responses (19% of authorities surveyed) – including at least one from all 9 English Regions. Responses were received from every region in England, including London (both inner and outer) – the respondents reflect a mix of urban, rural, prosperous and poor areas.
The term parished indicates whether an area has a parish council or not
We would like to thank all of those who responded.