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The world of Neighbourhood Planning is constantly changing.  On this page you will find  the latest news

Sources:  Planning Resource , my community.gov.uk, Cornerstone Barristers, Law Society Gazette, Landmark Barristers Chambers, All things neighbourhood planning

Developer Challenge thrown out

A housing development of 95 homes in Sonning Common cannot go ahead after a planning inspector rejected an appeal by the developer. 

A planning inspector threw out an appeal from Gallagher Estates Limited, which wanted to build 95 homes on land in Kennylands Road.

The plans were initially refused by South Oxfordshire District Council in March 2017, on the grounds they contravened the village's Neighbourhood Plan.

The plan, which took Sonning Common Parish Council five years to complete, allocated just 26 homes to the land.

The council's officers originally suggested approving the development, but campaigners argued there was no point creating the Neighbourhood Plan if it was going to be ignored.

At the appeal, the developer argued the Neighbourhood Plan was out of date.

In talking about the NDP, Planning Inspector Kenneth Stone says that "It takes forward the shared vision of the community for the neighbourhood area....at its heart is the key issue of how many new homes should be built in the village, what kind of homes they should be and where they should be built." In other words the Sonning Common NDP has done the right thing for the right reasons and its wish to make a clear distinction between the surrounding AONB and the village is to be applauded. The Inspector also clearly stated that he felt that guidance on what he should do was clear and that "where a planning application conflicts with a neighbourhood development plan that has been brought into force, planning permission should not normally be granted."

Read our November 2019



Check out Ed's great 'All Things Neighbourhood Planning' blog for a great insight into whats happening in the neighbourhood planning word by clicking on the house below!

Plans for 120 homes thrown out by minister


​PLANS for 120 homes in Benson have been thrown out after a planning inspector was overridden by the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government.

Ray Styles wanted to develop land south of Watlington Road and inspector John Felgate, who chaired a four-day public inquiry in February, had recommended the appeal be allowed.

But secretary of state James Brokenshire, who was asked to decide the appeal, has said it should be dismissed because of the conflict with the village’s neighbourhood plan.

This passed a referendum last month and does not allocate the site for development.

The plan names three suitable sites for 560 new homes and says that developers would be expected to fund sections of a bypass in order to alleviate congestion in the village centre.

The council feared that if Mr Styles was allowed to go ahead with the development it would harm the neighbourhood plan and jeopardise the delivery of the bypass.

In a letter from Maria Stasiak, decision officer at the government department, she said Mr Felgate gave “significant weight” to the conflict with the main policy within the Benson plan on where new houses should be built and the creation of a bypass.

She said: “Given that the Benson neighbourhood plan now forms part of the development plan…the Secretary of State affords this conflict very significant weight.”

“The Secretary of State considers that there are no material considerations which indicate that the proposal should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan. He therefore concludes that the appeal should be dismissed and planning permission be refused.”

However, Mrs Stasiak said that the Secretary of State gave “moderate weight” to the benefits of the provision of on-site open space and play areas and the enhancement to the public transport facilities.

Mr Brokenshire was called upon because the proposal went to appeal at the same time as the village’s neighbourhood plan reached its final stages.

It followed a request by Henley MP John Howell to the former Secretary of State Sajid Javid after he was concerned about the appeal hearing taking place at the same time as an independent examiner was looking at the neighbourhood plan.

Jon Fowler, of Benson’s neighbourhood plan team, said: “I think it vindicates the work that we have done on the plan and it shows how important neighbourhood plans are.

“It was worrying that the inspector was going to allow the appeal and I think had we not had it called in that would have presented a serious risk to our plan.

“We are extremely pleased that this appeal has been thrown out and we have now got to get on with delivering the policies and the work that’s in the plan.”

Article taken from Henley Standard 30th June 2018

The National Planning Policy Framework was published on 27 March 2012 and revised on 24 July 2018 and sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied

For Neighbourhood Plans currently in progress, the 2012 NPPF will apply for the purposes of examining plans which are submitted on or before 24 January 2019.

Grant Update

March 2018

Basic grant funding is being kept at £9,000, which is available to all neighbourhood planning groups (if you have been awarded some of this in the previous rounds, you can only apply for the outstanding balance). Additional funding of £8,000 is available IF you meet one of the following criteria:

* Plan is allocating sites for housing

* Plan includes site-specific design codes

* It is a business neighbourhood plan

* You are a cluster of three or more parishes writing a single plan

* You are a Neighbourhood Area with a population of over 25,000

Technical support is also available to Neighbourhood Plan area which are either:

Allocating sites for housing

Including design codes in the plan

Planning to use a neighbourhood development order

Are an undesignated Forum needing help to get designated.

November 2017

The Government has confirmed a new 2018-2022 programme which aims to continue to deliver support to communities who are (or are interested in) creating a neighbourhood plan or order, including members of public, community organisations and town and parish councils.

The support shall also be available to those replacing and/or modifying an existing neighbourhood plan.

​Previous grant expenditure under the 2015-2018 support programme for every group shall be rolled-over and subtracted from the amount of grant available under 2018-2022 programme, to ensure that new and existing groups are on a level playing field. All grant will need to be spent within the financial year in which it is awarded (i.e. by 31 March), regardless of when in the year it was awarded.

Government commits to further support for neighbourhood planning

More communities across England will be able to get free access to expert advice and guidance to help make their neighbourhood vision a reality, Housing Minister Dominic Raab announced today (19 March 2018).

Housing and Planning Minister Dominic Raab said:

Neighbourhood plans are a powerful tool to help communities shape their local area, making sure the right homes are built in the right places.

It’s vital that communities have the right support and advice available to help deliver a plan that meets their own ambitious aspirations. That’s why I’m making £23 million available that will help more groups to do this.

Over 2,300 communities across England have started the process of neighbourhood planning, with 530 plans approved in local referendums.

Previous government support has helped around 7 out of 10 of these communities progress their plans, with 365 neighbourhood plans finalised using support provided by the government.

The maximum grant available has also been increased by £2,000 to £17,000, helping communities to access more resources to develop a plan for their area.

Community groups can find our more information about how to apply for funding via a new website at www.neighbourhoodplanning.org. Applications to bid for funding will open on 3 April 2018.

Contact Plan-ET to find out how we can help you with any stage of your Neighbourhood Planning process.

We are Nationwide and are currently working with Neighbourhood Planning groups in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cumbria, Somerset and Devon

Planning for the right homes in the right places: consultation proposals

December 2017

Members of the Plan-et Team recently attended a seminar at Landmark Chambers, one of the lead chambers for planning and property. The seminar was to discuss the DCLG’s “Planning for the right homes in the right places” consultation paper, which has a target adoption date of spring 2018.

A number of concerns were highlighted regarding the suggested amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework and regulations.
Some specific potential changes include:

  • Introduce a standard equation for calculating housing need numbers

  • Imposing a cap on the level of increase created by these new calculations

  • Local plans must be reviewed every 5 years

  • Local planning authorities could be able to put a 2 year “freeze” on Objectively Assessed housing Need (OAN) figures during plan preparation

  • Local planning authorities will be expected to provide neighbourhood planning groups with a housing need figure

  • A statement of common ground to improve how local authorities work together to meet housing needs across boundaries

Christopher Katkowski QC spoke about the proposed approach to calculating housing need. The paper suggests introducing a uniform calculation instead of the current methods, which are not standardised and take excessive time and money to calculate. Mr Katkowski’s believes there to be 2 main flaws with these suggested changes.
A) if a cap is imposed on the newly calculated housing figures, how will it address the actual housing need?
B) what weight will be given to plans still in force, but using housing figures calculated using previous (outdated) methods?

Rupert Warren QC discussed and number of points in the paper:

  1. The potential confusion regarding the suggestion that Local Plans should be reviewed every 5 years.

  • When should a 5-year review commence? At 5 years? To ensure a review is complete by 5 years? Somewhere in between?

  • Would a Local Plan be considered “out of date” after 5 years?

  1. The proposal that local planning authorities should be able to rely on the evidence used to justify their local housing need for a period of 2 years from the date on which they submit their plan.

    • Will inspectors be asked to “close their eyes” if there are updated local OAN figures since the local plan started?

    • If housing need numbers are “frozen” for 2 years, the final housing figure in the Local Plan may differ from the local housing need figure.

    • The paper also suggests that local planning authorities will be expected to provide neighbourhood planning groups with a housing need figure, to allow progress to be made with neighbourhood planning, regardless of the current state of the local plan

Heather Sargent spoke about the proposed approach to the statements of common ground. The government paper expands on the duty to co-operate, which was designed to reflect the reality that strategic cross-boundary planning matters can only be effectively tackled when local planning authorities work together. Local planning authorities are required to “engage constructively, actively and on an on-going basis” on matters such as planning for housing need across a housing market area or developing integrated infrastructure. The paper suggests that local planning authorities will be required to produce a “statement of common ground” to demonstrate evidence of cooperation and set out the cross-boundary matters.

How will LPA’s calculate a figure to give NPG’s? What if the LP is still emerging? How will this figure be calculated?

If a statement of common ground expects neighbouring authorities to pick up unmet housing needs, what does this do to neighbourhood plans and housing need figures given to the NPG’s to work from?

Ms Sargents biggest concerns were:

  • Lack of transparency about how effectively LPA’s are cooperating

  • The Duty to Cooperate will only be tested towards the end of the plan-making process, which could be too late to remedy failures and may lead to plans being withdrawn

  • LPA’s not legally required to reach an agreement

It was clear from the seminar that there are a lot of grey areas and unanswered questions to be remedied. The responses to the consultation proposals had to be returned by 9th November 2017 and the governments response to these is expected March/April 2018. It will be interesting to see what final decisions will be made.

Positive provision of housing and the effect of presumption

May 2017

A recent ruling in relation to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has a bearing on Neighbourhood Plans:


Conjoined cases:

  • Suffolk Coastal -v- Hopkins Homes and

  • Richborough Estates -v- Cheshire East BC


The parts of the NPPF referred to are:


Para 14 NPPF:    which deals with the presumption in favour of development, tilting the balance when the District Plan is silent or out of date. 

Para 49 NPPF:    which says that relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up to date if the Local Planning Authority cannot demonstrate a 5-year supply of deliverable sites.


What the cases were about:

Whether policies for the supply of housing are only those which deal with the positive provision of housing, and the effect of the presumption. 


The outcome from the Supreme Court is:


Para 49 should be applied narrowly, but it isn’t necessary to subject every policy to scrutiny so as to categorise it as being, or not, a policy for the supply of housing.  An overly-legalistic approach Is to be avoided. 

Para 49 is the trigger which engages the presumption in para 14, where appropriate.  Two of the judges gave reasoned judgments (both reaching the same conclusion). 


You can read the full judgment here:




A Press Summary here:




And watch Lord Carnwath deliver a summary of the judgment here:



The first "No" vote on an NP at referendum - Swanwick

October 2016

The Neighbourhood Plan for Swanwick has been overwhelmingly rejected in a local referendum after the steering group campaigned for a 'no' vote following a dispute with the Borough Council regarding the deletion of a policy protecting open spaces of land.


In the Examiner’s report , Mr McGurk views the NP’s ‘Protected Open Land’ policy as comparable to a Local Green Space policy for which, no clear evidence was presented (see page 18 of the Examiner’s report).    


"The areas of land the subject of Policy 2 are in close proximity to Swanwick,  they are local in character and  each area is not an extensive tract of land. There is also some evidence showing that the areas of land are demonstrably special to the local community. However, whilst the Neighbourhood Plan states that the sites have an “intrinsic value,” this is based on them providing for separation and preventing coalescence. There is no substantive evidence to demonstrate that the areas of land hold a particular local significance, for example For reasons of beauty, historic significance, recreational value, tranquillity or richness of wildlife. Furthermore and fundamentally, I am especially mindful that sites A, B and C in Policy 2, have not been proposed as Local Green Space." 


He thus recommended that the policy be deleted.