Neighbourhood Planning gets a boost 

Lets start with a quote:  

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

“The Government is overhauling the country’s outdated planning system to deliver the high-quality sustainable homes the country needs. 

Under the new system local communities will be in the driving seat deciding what is built and where. I want to ensure all communities have a strong voice in this process which is why I am doubling the funding available in some of the most deprived parts of the country to help residents in these areas shape the future of their neighbourhoods.” 

Government grants for some individual neighbourhood planning groups will increase to £18,000. 

This revelation comes after funding was increased from £9,000 to £10,000 in May to help groups deal with the effects of Covid-19. 

Urban (non-parished) AND deprived?

According to the Government, the criteria for falling in to an ‘urban’ area is being non-parished.

To qualify as a ‘deprived’ area, the area must be amongst the 20% most deprived in England in accordance with the Index of Multiple Deprivation. 

So far so good. This might help some of the communities in Derbyshire* that qualify to decide that they can afford to make a Neighbourhood (Development) Plan – given that much of the work can be outsourced to consultants. 

However, to be a strong voice for the community the community has to be fully engaged in the process, and in my experience that is hard to do if the outcome is felt to be predetermined 

I’m taking all this in with a good supply of salt. The reforms suggested in the White Paper ”Planning for the future” do not seem to give much time or resource for people in the community to organise, discuss and research the options open to them, and even if they manage all of that, the LPA (Local Planning Authority) has to do two things quicklyproduce a new simpler Local Plan and define the rules for development in the two possible development areas AND deliver a government target of new housing. It is not clear how the community, using purely digital means, is expected to have strong voice.  

The current pandemic and social distancing have shown us that there is a lot that can be achieved through digital means, but also that there is no substitute for face to face meetings. That is truer still of public discourse - public meetings are an essential part of proper planning. I fear that we will have consultation by email, everyone who can be bothered writing in with their ideas and the LPA making the decisions they have to because they are driven by targets.  

*  Let’s see ... 

If, having read this, you want to explore the opportunity for your community and you have questions (you are bound to have multiple questions) then please get in touch. I can help put things into context and give you an idea of timescales etc. But ultimately it's up to you and your community to drive this. 

26th August 2020

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