Neighbourhood Planning

General Guidance

Through the Localism Act 2011 [external link], the Government has introduced new rights and powers to allow local communities to come together to prepare Neighbourhood Plans.

Neighbourhood Plans are one way communities can help to shape the future of the places where they live and work.

Communities 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
  • Grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead

Information and guidance can be viewed at the following websites:

1. Defining the Neighbourhood

Local people will need to decide how they want to work together. Neighbourhood Plans can be taken forward by two types of body; Town and Parish Councils or ‘Neighbourhood Forums’.  Neighbourhood Forums are community groups that are designed to take forward Neighbourhood Planning in areas without Parishes. 

The first step is to contact the Local Planning Authority which can provide technical advice, support and guidance as neighbourhoods discuss their proposals.

This map [pdf document] shows the areas in the Darlington Borough which have already been designated as Neighbourhood Areas. The outcome of this first stage in the Neighbourhood Planning process.

2. Preparing the Plan

Next, local people will need to begin collecting their ideas together and drawing up their plans. With a Neighbourhood Plan, communities will be able to establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood.

With a Neighbourhood Development Order [pdf document] or Community Right to Build Order [external link] the community can grant planning permission for new buildings they want to see go ahead.

Communities can choose to draw up either a plan, or a Development Order, or both and should liaise with the Local Planning Authority to seek advice and guidance on this and to ensure that proposals meet a number of conditions. 

Both Plans and Development Orders must conform with local planning policy framework set out in the Local Plan for the area and with National Planning Policy and as such cannot be used to reduce the amount or type of development currently planned for.  Neighbourhood Planning may, however, influence the type, design, location and mix of new development.

3. Independent Check

The Local Planning Authority will appoint an independent examiner to assess whether the Neighbourhood Plan or Development Order satisfies the ground rules and conditions.  This may trigger the need for further work and consultation with the community.

4. Community Referendum

The local council will organise a referendum once the Neighbourhood Plan or Order meets the basic conditions. People living in the neighbourhood who are registered to vote in local elections will be entitled to vote in the referendum.

The Neighbourhood Plan or Order must receive support of more than 50% of voters in order for the Council to bring it into force.

5. Legal Force

Once the Neighbourhood Plan or Order is formally adopted by the Council, it becomes part of the statutory planning framework for the area.

The Council’s Role

It is the Local Planning Authority’s role to keep an overview of all the difference requests to do Neighbourhood Planning in their area.

They will check suggested boundaries for different neighbourhoods and check community groups meet the right standards when creating Neighbourhood Forums.  The Local Planning Authority will be obliged by law to help people draw up their Neighbourhood Plans.

If you want to find out more about some of the things that the Council has to consider in dealing with neighbourhood planning, please visit the Planning Advisory Service website [external link]

Blackwell Neighbourhood Forum and Area Designation

On 29 May 2014 Blackwell Neighbourhood Forum and the associated area were formally designated by Darlington Borough Council. A Neighbourhood Forum is a way that residents within a non-parished area can form a group with powers to influence how their community is developed within a designated area. Attached is a copy of the decision notice and a map outlining the designated area

Middleton St. George Neighbourhood Development Plan Area

On 1 July 2014 Middleton St George Parish Council (in association with Low Dinsdale Parish Council) was formally designated as a Neighbourhood Area, for the purpose of preparing a Neighbourhood Development Plan.

The relevant Cabinet report and a map outlining the designated area can be viewed in the links below:

Sadberge Parish Neighbourhood Area

On 15 May 2013, Sadberge Parish Council Neighbourhood Area was formally designated as a Neighbourhood Area.

A copy of the decision notice and a map outlining the designated area can be seen in the links below:

Further to discussion at the meeting of the Parish Council on 13 January 2015, it was decided not to proceed any further with the Sadberge Neighbourhood Plan.