A briefing note for local authority planners
1. Embrace it
Neighbourhood Planning is central to the localism agenda and the Big Society. It provides an opportunity for change, growth and regeneration at the local level, where it is most needed, driven by the local community. The concept won’t go away: it must be embraced as a force for good!
2. Facilitate it
A successful Neighbourhood Plan needs to reflect the aspirations, hopes and dreams of the local community. But this success depends upon the whole community being involved, not a select few. A successful Plan will quickly identify areas of agreement and the best way for shaping change. The local authority can play an important role in facilitating the engagement of all members of the community in the process.
3. Join it (up)
Neighbourhoods can be complex areas that do not relate to geographical boundaries. Work with the community to ensure that the plan truly reflects the realities of the neighbourhood area. A good Neighbourhood Plan will also recognise and be a conduit for working with surrounding areas, with strong relationships developed at neighbourhood, parish and district levels. Local authorities can play a crucial role in providing the evidence to inform the process.
4. Prioritise it
Do it and do it quickly! Impetus and interest should be maintained. Local members should be fully engaged and actively involved in the process: without which it is unlikely to succeed. Focused activity over a few months is likely to be more enthusiatically received rather than a long drawn out process.
5. Communicate it
The Plan should tell the story of the area and what should happen simply and clearly. It should be well presented, understandable by all and avoid using technical jargon. It should speak to the audience and be supported by plans, maps and pictures. It should be concise, engaging and exciting.
6. Deliver it
Although the Plan should set out the aspirations of the neighbourhood these should be realistic and deliverable. Clear ground rules will need to be established. This may mean thinking differently about traditional delivery models – big change may derive from lots of small projects.
7. Own it
Production of the Plan should create a lasting legacy for the neighbourhood. A charter, championed by a cross section of neighbourhood representatives, should point the way forward and provide the means for promotion and implementation of the Plan.