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Our Local Plan has now been submitted for examination.

Neighbourhood Planning

Neighbourhood Planning is a new way for communities to get involved in planning the future of their areas.

Communities have been encouraged to get involved in planning for their areas for many years through the preparation of their own parish plans and village statements, and through consultation on the Local Plan and other planning documents. This hasn't changed. The Council is preparing a new Local Plan for the borough and we still want to hear your views.

However, communities can now work with Parish and Town Councils to create Neighbourhood Development Plans, and if they wish Neighbourhood Development Orders. The easiest way to get involved in Neighbourhood Planning is through your local Parish Council or Town Council. However, it is not compulsory to prepare a neighbourhood plan; the decision will rest with the town and parish councils.

In Welwyn Garden City, where there is no town or parish council, the local community can come together and form a Neighbourhood Forum, which is then designated by the council to carry out neighbourhood planning functions if it meets certain requirements.

Find out more about neighbourhood planning by reading our Frequently Asked Questions or by looking at the Related Links on this page.

There are certain procedures that must be followed if you would like to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan or Order. If you are a Town or Parish Council, or live in Welwyn Garden City and would like to form a Neighbourhood Forum, please get in touch with us to discuss your proposals at an early stage.

First Neighbourhood Area designated in Welwyn Hatfield.

Following an application from Northaw and Cuffley Parish Council, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has designated a Neighbourhood Area for Northaw and Cuffley for the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan. The designated Neighbourhood Area is to be known as the Northaw and Cuffley Neighbourhood Area.

This follows a seven-week consultation period which concluded on 13 August 2014.

A neighbourhood plan enables local communities to set out a vision for the future of a neighbourhood and establish planning policies for the development and use of land within a defined area.

A plan showing the extent of thepdf icon Northaw and Cuffley Neighbourhood Area [138KB], is available to view

Neighbourhood Planning in Welwyn Hatfield Frequently Asked Questions


What is Neighbourhood Planning?

Neighbourhood planning is a new tier of planning aimed at empowering communities to shape the development and growth of a local area.

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Who will take the lead in neighbourhood planning?

Local parish or town councils have been empowered to lead neighbourhood planning in their communities. In areas without a parish or town council, new neighbourhood forums will be able to take the lead. In areas which are predominately commercial, a neighbourhood forum can be led by a business neighbourhood forum.

In Welwyn Hatfield there are seven parish councils and one town council. Contact details for these are available here.

There is no parish or town council for Welwyn Garden City so a neighbourhood forum could be designated to take the lead in neighbourhood planning.

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What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A neighbourhood plan will enable local communities to set out a vision for the future of a neighbourhood and establish planning policies for the development and use of land within a defined area. Neighbourhood plans are not about preventing development, they are about positively planning for the future of an area. They must be in conformity with the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan, consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework, be based on robust evidence and be subject to sustainability appraisal/strategic environmental assessments. They will be subject to examination and a referendum.

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What is a Neighbourhood Development Order?

A neighbourhood development order will mean that the community can grant planning permission for new buildings without developers having to apply separately for planning permission. They should be used in conjunction with Neighbourhood Plans. They will be subject to examination and a referendum.

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Independent checks and community referendums

Once a neighbourhood plan or order has been prepared it will be subject to an independent examination which may result in changes being made. If it is considered to meet the required standards then the council will organise a local referendum to ensure that the community has the final say on whether the neighbourhood plan comes into force. If more than 50% of people voting support the plan, then it will become part of the statutory development plan for the borough.

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What role does the council play?

In addition to arranging the referendum, the council is required to provide support and advice to Parish Councils and Neighbourhood Forums. The type of advice available from the council could include:

· Sharing evidence and information on planning issues.

· Providing advice on consultation.

· Providing advice on assessments and evidence.

· Providing advice on national and local plan policies which neighbourhood plans or development orders must adhere to.

· Helping communities communicate with external partners where this is required.

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What's the difference between neighbourhood plans and parish plans?

It is not compulsory to prepare either a parish plan or a neighbourhood plan.

Parish plans provide an opportunity for local people to express how they feel about their local area, highlighting issues of local importance, and proposing solutions or improvements that they would like to see in their area. Parish Plans are not however subject to independent examination or to a referendum and they may contain matters which do not relate to the use or development of land, e.g. maintaining play equipment. Parish plans are not part of the statutory development plan for an area.

Neighbourhood development plans will be concerned with the use and development of land within a specified area. They will form part of the statutory development plan for an area and will be subject to an independent examination to ensure it is in line with national and local policy and that the process in creating plans has been carried out correctly.

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What is a Community Right to Build Order?

Community Right to Build Orders will enable local people to bring forward small scale, site specific, community led developments without the need for planning permission. Benefits from these developments will remain in the local area.

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What is the Localism Act?

The Localism Act is an Act of Parliament which was passed through Royal Assent on 15th November 2011. The Act aims to shift power from central Government back into the hands of individuals, communities and councils.

Please see The Localism Act - A Plain English Guide in the related links.

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Should I still make my views known about development through the council's local plan process?

Yes. It is still necessary to use the routes of consultation provided by the Council to make your views known about the wider plans that the council is preparing for the local area.

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Neighbourhood forums

In Welwyn Garden City, because there is no town council, an application can be made to the council to form a neighbourhood forum. A forum must be representative of the local community and include local residents, businesses and local councillors. The council is responsible for designating such groups who must meet certain requirements, such as:

· The group must be open to those living and working in the neighbourhood area

· It must have a written constitution.

· It must have at least 21 Members.

· Members must be from the neighbourhood area which they wish to make a neighbourhood plan for.

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How many neighbourhood forums can be designated for an area?

Only one neighbourhood forum can be designated for each neighbourhood area to be covered by a neighbourhood plan.

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What are the costs of neighbourhood planning?

There are no fixed costs involved in creating a neighbourhood plan as there is no fixed format of how to produce one. The cost of preparing a neighbourhood plan will be dependent on its complexity and the size of area covered.

It is advised that communities and parish councils use existing evidence available to them as produced by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and other public bodies to add authority to their plans and to minimise unnecessary expenditure.

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Will financial support be available to support a neighbourhood plan?

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council is able to provide advice and support for Neighbourhood Plans but is unable to provide financial assistance towards the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan.

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Does a neighbourhood development plan have to conform with Welwyn Hatfield's Local Plan?

Yes. The Localism Act sets out the basic requirement that Neighbourhood Development Plans and Neighbourhood Development Orders have to be in general conformity with the strategic policies set out in Welwyn Hatfield's Local Plan and should plan positively to support them.

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What is the local plan for the area?

The existing adopted local plan is the Welwyn Hatfield District Plan 2005. However, this will be replaced over time by a new local plan. This will comprise a Core Strategy and other documents such as a site allocations and development management policies document. In order to avoid the possibility of abortive work, we would recommend that neighbourhood plans are not submitted for approval until the strategic policies of the new local plan have been adopted.

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Can a Neighbourhood Development Plan prevent permitted development?

No.

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Where can I find more information?

Department for Communities and Local Government:

Campaign to Protect Rural England:

Planning Advisory Service:

Design Council:

Other Organisations: 

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