Neighbourhood Plan – FAQ

Neighbourhood Planning – What is it all about?

  • Neighbourhood planning is part of a Government initiative to devolve decision-making down to local communities, so they have a greater say in issues that affect them. The 2011 Localism Act and the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 provide 3 tools that Parish Councils can use to give their communities a greater voice in the future development of their areas.
    • Neighbourhood Plans
    • Neighbourhood Development Orders
    • Community Right To Build Orders
  • The Orders effectively give the Parish Council the ability to grant planning permission for certain community projects, without going through the usual planning application process involving Milton Keynes Council. An Order might be considered to be appropriate, for example, for the Village Shop. The Neighbourhood Plan is a formal document that sets out the community’s vision for its own development. Once adopted, it will be used by Milton Keynes Council (along with its own Local Plan – Plan:MK) to determine all planning applications.
  • By 31 October 2014, around 1200 communities in England had embarked on the process of neighbourhood planning and 33 Plans and 1 Order had been approved by local referundum.
  • There is a lot of background information on the internet, see the Links page.

What is happening in Milton Keynes?

  • Milton Keynes Council supports the principle of Neighbourhood Plans, and Plans for 16 Areas are currently at various stages of preparation. These include all 3 ‘Key Settlements’ (Newport Pagnell, Olney and Woburn Sands), one of the other 2 ‘Selected Villages’ (Bow Brickhill), and Castlethorpe (a village of similar size to Sherington). Sherington is a ‘Selected Village’ and therefore a location selected for limited housing development.
  • Woburn Sands has completed the entire process, and its Plan is now in force. Wolverton has just finished compiling its Plan and has submitted it to MKC for review and then public referendum.

How does this relate to the Site Allocations Plan?

  • The Neighbourhood Plan covers ALL development. The Site Allocations Plan is limited to housing. The two are complementary, and the public consultation for the Site Allocations Plan will inform the Neighbourhood Plan too.

How much effort is involved?

  • A lot! The total effort depends on many factors, so it is difficult to predict. The village of Strumpshaw in Norfolk is one Parish with a population of 600 that has completed its Neighbourhood Plan, and reports that it required 1500 man hours of voluntary effort. They had a Steering Group of five residents and chaired by the Parish Council Chairman. A key member was a retired local government chief officer.

What is the cost and who pays?

  • The Parish Council has to meet the cost through the Precept, so it is paid for by local Council Taxpayers. However, there are various grants available. The Government are making £22.5m available for 2015-2018. The cost depends on many factors, including the extent to which we need to use paid-for professional consultants. Strumpshaw reported that their costs amounted to £4,220, of which £3,445 was spent on printing, and in addition their District Council spent £6,414 funded by a grant.
  • Research is currently in progress to ascertain the costs incurred by other areas, so that we have a more reliable estimate for our own budgeting purposes.

How long does it take?

  • This depends on the complexity of the Plan, the size of the Area and the availability of volunteers. The nominal Gantt Chart on the Milton Keynes Council web site suggests a total period of 80 weeks, however the submission of the plan area to MKC is week 20, which Sherington is doing now, so it is hoped to shorten this period. However, the need for extensive consultations, some of which have a statutory time period, places constraints on this.

Who takes part?

  • You do. The WHOLE community is involved and WILL be consulted – residents, landowners, businesses, local organisations, developers, etc. The exact form of all the extensive consultations that will be required has yet to be decided by the Steering Group. Your suggestions as to how this can be done are welcome.

Does it cover minerals extraction?

  • No, only development.

Does it over-ride the Milton Keynes Council plans, e.g. the ‘c20-40 new houses’ specified in the Core Strategy?

  • No. It has to be consistent with Milton Keynes Council’s plans (Core Strategy, Plan:MK and Site Allocations Plan) and, when adopted, will have equal legal force. Preparation of Sherington’s Neighbourhood Plan in tandem with the Site Allocations Plan (as is also happening in Newport Pagnell and Olney) will help to ensure there is synergy.

Milton Keynes Council

  • When the Plan has been prepared, it has to be submitted to Milton Keynes Council for independent review. It is checked for compliance with regulations and legislation, and also for consistency with Milton Keynes Council’s own Local Plan. Milton Keynes Council can not otherwise over-ride the wishes of the community as expressed in the Plan.

Referendum

  • Once it has passed the Milton Keynes Council’s review, the Plan is then subject to a referendum of local government electors. Therefore YOU have the final say. In the case of Woburn Sands nearly 90% voted in favour.
  • The question that will be asked is: “Do you want Milton Keynes Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for the Sherington Area to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”

I care about Sherington and its future – how can I get involved?