Incentives for the Neighbourhood Plan proposed

The Planning Minister, Nick Boles, has announced further incentives for neighbourhoods that prepare a Neighbourhood Plan.

Currently, Parish and Town Councils have the ability to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan which establishes policies for the on-going development and preservation of the local community.  Communities that are not within a Parish can also create a Neighbourhood Plan provided a Neighbourhood Forum is established. 

The process for creating a Neighbourhood Plan must be done in co-operation with the Local Authority, and involves consultation with the local community, independent examination and the holding of a local referendum.  This process is by no means simple or cheap and can take some time as evidenced by the slow progress of those Neighbourhood Plans that are being prepared throughout the UK (a Neighbourhood Plan has not yet been put in place in this country although the Plan for Upper Eden in Cumbria will be the first to go to a local referendum in March of this year). 

The Planning Minister has put forward the proposal that those communities that do have a Neighbourhood Plan will receive 25% of the revenues from the Community Infrastructure Levy arising from the development that has been permitted within the Plan.  So, the more development proposed within the Neighbourhood Plan the more revenue the community could receive.

The monies received under this proposal will, it is assumed, be paid directly to the Parish and Town Council and potentially the Neighbourhood Forum to be used for the benefit of the community. 

Communities that don't have a Neighbourhood Plan will still benefit from the Community Infrastructure Levy with a capped 15% share (no more than £100.00 per existing household) of the levy being retained by the Local Authority to spend in accordance with the wishes of the community.

The overall intent is quite clear.  The Government hope that, by promising funds to the local community for any development granted in their area, this will persuade the local people that further development is in their best interests and therefore stimulate growth.

It must however be noted that the Community Infrastructure Levy is still also in its very early stages with only a handful of Local Authorities implementing the Levy to date.  The Levy is intended to effectively replace the majority of the financial contribution functions of the Section 106 Agreement by imposing a set charge on development.  Until the Community Infrastructure Levy has been put in place by the majority of Local Authorities these proposals by the Planning Minister will most likely have limited effect.

Posted on: 11/01/2013

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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