Neighbourhood planning is a right for communities to shape development in their areas through the production of a Neighbourhood Plan.
A Neighbourhood Plan (NP) sets out policies in relation to the development and use of land in the area – in this case, Danbury Parish. The Danbury NP will be a very important document which the government will consider in all planning decisions in the parish. The NP must be drafted by local people who are recognised as representatives of the community, and if it is approved by a referendum in the parish, it is expected to shape planning decisions and form part of the Chelmsford Local Plan was adopted on 27th May 2020.
Please scroll down for answers to some frequently asked questions about the Danbury NP:
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan is an opportunity for local people to have a say in what to protect and where to build in their parish over the long term. The process is enshrined in law. Whilst land development is probably the main topic that we in Danbury are concerned with, the NP will also consider environmental issues, transport, leisure facilities and all aspects of village life.
Although it is not intended to be overly restrictive, a NP is a very comprehensive document. It sets out the policies and projects that will define how the parish will change in the coming years. This vision will be very important for the community, Chelmsford City Council, developers and many other interested parties.
Why does Danbury need a NP?
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 businesses, councils and civic leaders - those who know best the needs of their local areas.
If the parish doesn’t have a plan it will have no say in any planning / housing decisions in the village.
How will the NP affect planning in Danbury?
At present there is only the Danbury Planning Framework (DPF) which is part of Chelmsford City Council`s Local Planning Framework. The DPF is a supplementary document and as such can be ignored by planning authorities when considering planning applications.
The Neighbourhood Plan will give much greater security to the wishes of the village. It will set out policies on local development and use of land in the Parish. This will include the sites, conditions & restrictions and the number & types of houses which may be built. Once agreed, it will become part of the Chelmsford Local Authority Development Plan, a statutory plan against which all planning applications in Danbury will be judged.
Who is responsible for the NP?
Production of the NP is the responsibility of Danbury Parish Council and this will be achieved by the Danbury NP Steering Group (SG). The SG is composed of local residents, businesses and organisations which hold a specific interest in the Danbury Parish. The members of the SG and their constitution can be seen here.
Who pays for the NP?
Most of the work will be done by volunteers, free of charge, but a grant of £9,000 is available from government for the NP preparation. An additional £8,000 is available to those groups that meet specified criteria which includes allocating sites for housing.
The legal background
Under the Localism Act, Neighbourhood Plans (NPs) must form part of Chelmsford Council’s Local Plan and obey national regulations. They must follow some ground rules: