Neighbourhood planning

Made Low Coniscliffe and Merrybent Neighbourhood Plan

In line with Regulation 19 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012, the Council formally ‘made’ (adopted) the Low Coniscliffe and Merrybent Neighbourhood Plan on 10th June 2019. Details can be seen at the Low Coniscliffe and Merrybent neighbourhood plan section below.

On 26 May 2017 Low Coniscliffe and Merrybent Parish was formally designated as a Neighbourhood Area, for the purpose of preparing a Neighbourhood Development Plan.

The record of the Delegated Executive Decision and the statement in support of a Neighbourhood Plan for Low Coniscliffe and Merrybent, including a plan of the area designated, can be seen in the link below:

Low Coniscliffe and Merrybent Designation Delegated Decision and Neighbourhood Plan Statement [pdf document]


The Parish Council established a steering group to lead the plan preparation process. Early engagement in 2017 informed the preparation of a Pre-Submission Draft Plan which was subject of consultation (Reg 14) from 21st April to 2nd June 2018. The documents and associated evidence base can still be viewed at https://www.lowconiscliffeandmerrybentneighbourhoodplan.org.uk/ 

The views and comments received by the group were utilised to prepare the Submission Draft Neighbourhood Plan which was submitted to the Council on the 26th September 2018. The plan proposed a number of policies on the environment, open space, heritage, housing, infrastructure, connectivity and transport, amongst others.

Regulation 16 Consultation

In accordance with Regulation 16 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012, Darlington Borough Council invited comments from organisations and individuals on the submitted Neighbourhood Plan. The consultation ran from 20 November 2018 to 7 January 2019.

Examination

The Council collated all of the representations and passed them to an independent examiner appointed by the Council in agreement with the Parish Council. The Examiner’s Report was received in March 2019 and recommended that, subject to a number of proposed modifications, the Plan should proceed to referendum. The modifications were required to ensure that the Plan met the basic conditions set out in the legislation. It was also recommended that the referendum area should match that of the Neighbourhood Area.

Having considered the examiner’s report, the Council accepted the recommendations and was satisfied that the plan could proceed to referendum. The Examiner’s Report and the Council’s Decision Statement can be viewed below.

Referendum

The referendum took place on the 23rd May 2019 and there was a majority vote in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan. As such the local authority had a duty to ‘make’ (adopt) the Neighbourhood Plan to form part of the Development Plan for Darlington. Decisions on planning applications must now be made in accordance with policies in the Low Coniscliffe and Merrybent Neighbourhood Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

The Neighbourhood Plan and Council’s Decision Statement to make the plan can be viewed below. The documents can also be viewed at Customer Services Darlington Borough Council Town Hall, Crown Street Library, Cockerton Library and Low Coniscliffe Village Telephone Box Book Exchange.

Recent consultations

The Middleton St George Neighbourhood area regulation 6 consultation took place in early 2019 and the neighbourhood area has now been designated.

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.

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 work 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].

Neighbourhood plan areas

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

On 26 May 2017 Hurworth Parish Council was formally designated as a Neighbourhood Area, for the purpose of preparing a Neighbourhood Development Plan.

The record of the Delegated Executive Decision and the Hurworth Neighbourhood Plan Statement, including a plan of the area designated, can be seen in the link below:

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:

In January 2019, Middleton St George Parish Council applied to Darlington Borough Council for a new Neighbourhood Area to reflect the changes in the parish boundary and to pursue the preparation of a Neighbourhood Development Plan. The boundary changes came about via a Community Governance Review in 2016. The Parish Council proposed a Neighbourhood Area of the new parish area and excluded land at Durham Tees Valley Airport. Even though the land at the airport fells within the parish boundary it was considered inappropriate for Durham Tees Valley Airport to be included in the Neighbourhood Area due to its strategic importance.

In accordance with Regulation 6 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012, Darlington Borough Council invited comments from organisations and individuals on the proposed Neighbourhood Area. The consultation period took place from 13th February 2019 to 29th March 2019. The Council considered the responses received and if the area applied for was appropriate for the purpose of neighbourhood planning. It was considered that the Neighbourhood Area should be designated.

The relevant delegated report including a map of the area can be viewed here [pdf document]

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.