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Chorleywood Parish Council requests designation as a Neighbourhood Area

posted 23 Mar 2014, 03:57 by Tomo   [ updated 23 Mar 2014, 14:16 ]
Many residents in Chorleywood Parish will have received a flyer from Three Rivers District Council stating that they have received an application from Chorleywood Parish Council to designate a Neighbourhood Area covering all areas within the existing Chorleywood Parish.  The consultation on this proposal runs for six weeks from Friday 21st March to Friday 2nd May 2014. 

What are they asking?

The consultation is effectively asking whether the area proposed (in this case Chorleywood Parish) is a suitable area for a future Neighbourhood Plan.
In summary, do the boundaries as proposed make sense to the local community for a potential area in which a Neighbourhood Plan could operate, if approved, in the future? Does the area proposed make local sense?

The plans can be viewed online on the Three Rivers District Council website or you can view them

How to make a comment:
  • By post to: Economic and Sustainable Development, Three Rivers District Council, Three Rivers House, Northway, Rickmansworth, Herts, WD3 1RL.
  • By email to: TRLDF@threerivers.gov.uk
  • All comments must be received by 5pm on Friday 2 May 2014.
What happens to my comments?

For any comments to be considered you must provide your name and address. Any comments received will be made available (online and at the Council offices) for inspection by members of the public and cannot be treated as confidential. Personal information such as your address, telephone number and email address will not appear, however your name and organisation (if relevant) will.  

But why has this happened and what does it all mean?

The Three Rivers notice had two suggested web links you could follow for more information. 
  • http://www.ourneighbourhoodplanning.org.uk/   (this link was incorrectly printed in the flyer, we've given the correct link)
  • http://mycommunityrights.org.uk/neighbourhood-planning/
We reviewed the above and didn't immediately find the answers to our questions. However we did find a better explanation on the gov.uk website on Neighbourhood Planning and we include some key points on this below.

What is neighbourhood planning? 

Neighbourhood planning is a new way for communities to decide the future of the places where they live and work. 
They will be able to: 
  • choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built 
  • have their say on what those new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided 
  • grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead 
The government has introduced the community right to do neighbourhood planning through the Localism Act. 
General regulations governing neighbourhood planning came into effect in April 2012. 
Regulations on the referendum stage came into force in August 2012.

Why does neighbourhood planning matter? 

The planning system helps decide what gets built, where and when. It is essential for supporting economic growth, improving people’s quality of life, and protecting the natural environment. In theory, planning was always supposed to give local communities a say in decisions that affect them. But in practice, communities have often found it hard to have a meaningful say. The government wants to put power back in the hands of local residents, employees and business, councils and civic leaders - those who know best the needs of their local areas. 
Neighbourhood planning is optional, not compulsory. No one has to do it, if they don’t want to. But we think that lots of people will want to take the opportunity, to influence the future of the place where they live or work. 

How does neighbourhood planning work? 

There are 5 key stages to neighbourhood planning. 

Stage 1: defining the neighbourhood   <-- THIS IS THE STAGE BEING APPLIED FOR NOW

First, local people will need to decide how they want to work together

In areas with a parish or town council, the parish or town council will take the lead on neighbourhood planning. They have long experience of working 
with and representing local communities. In areas without a parish or town council, local people will need to decide which organisation should lead on coordinating the local debate. In some places, existing community groups may want to put themselves forward. In other places, local people might want to form a new group. In both cases, the group must meet some basic standards. It must, for example, have at least 21 members, and it must be open to new members. 
Town and parish councils and community groups will then need to apply to the local planning authority (usually the borough or district council). 

It’s the local planning authority’s job to keep an overview of all the different requests to do neighbourhood planning in their area. They will check that the suggested boundaries for different neighbourhoods make sense and fit together. The local planning authority will say no if, for example, 2 proposed neighbourhood areas overlap. They will also check that community groups who want to take the lead on neighbourhood planning meet the right standards. The planning authority will say no if, for example, the organisation is too small or not representative enough of the local community, including residents, employers and business. If the local planning authority decides that the community group meets the right standards, the group can call itself a ‘neighbourhood forum’. (This is simply the technical term for groups which have been granted the legal power to do neighbourhood planning in a particular area.) 

The stages that will follow are:

Stage 2: preparing the plan
Local people will need to pull together and prioritise their early ideas, and draw up their plans. 

Stage 3: independent check
Once a neighbourhood plan or order has been prepared, an independent examiner will check that it meets the right basic standards

Stage 4: community referendum
The local council will organise a referendum on any plan or order that meets the basic standards. This ensures that the community has the final say on 
whether a neighbourhood plan or order comes into force

Stage 5: legal force
Once a neighbourhood plan is in force following a successful referendum, it carries real legal weight. Decision makers are obliged to consider proposals 
for development in the neighbourhood against the neighbourhood plan.

How does this work with the Community Plan?

We were initially a little confused as to how this process interfaced with the existing work being undertaken to develop a Community Plan which was initiated with other local community groups late last year also by the Parish Council and has already started work, and the Residents' Association has two members of the Executive Committee engaged in that process. Although we cannot predicate exactly what will happen, and assuming that the Neighbourhood Area is approved, it's likely that the ground work done by the Community Plan group will feed into Stage 2 of the Neighbourhood Plan process where the detail of the Neighbourhood Plan is prepared. However it is our understanding that a Community Plan can have a more broad focus then a Neighbourhood Plan (which is quite planning focussed) - we will continue to review what happens.

Our response to the consultation

We will discuss the proposed Neighbourhood Plan at our next committee meeting on 8th April 2014, but we are open for feedback from the community at any stage. You can contact us in the usual ways. And we will disclose our response on our website.

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