Frequently Asked Questions

We’re thinking of doing a Neighbourhood Plan; what’s involved and how do we start the process?


The plan-making process starts when members of the town or parish council, perhaps on the suggestion of local interested groups and individuals, have the idea of a Neighbourhood Plan for their area. It will involve a small group of people sharing their ideas and aspriations for the local area. At the start-up stage consideration will be given to:

  • Whether or not a Neighbourhood Plan is appropriate for your area and which type will best suit your needs
  • Whether you should form a cluster with other parishes
  • Defining the Neighbourhood Area boundary
  • Gaining community support
  • Who will lead the plan-making process and how it is organised.
Once the community is on board, a Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group can be identified to coordinate the work. A number of legal requirements will need to be met including notifying the Council of your intention to prepare a plan and defining the Neighbourhood Area. This stage also involves planning the work to be undertaken, how to keep everybody informed and how to access funding, and should culminate in a clear plan of action. This stage will end by formally informing the Council of the intention to prepare a plan, and getting them to sign off the Neighbourhood Area. Formally notifying the Council includes sending a map of the area the Neighbourhood Plan will cover; a statement on why the area was selected and a statement that the local council is a qualifying body.




What is a Community Right to Build Order?


The Localism Act allows for community organisations to develop a Community Right to BUild Order, which is similar to a Neighbourhood Development Order. The Community Right to Build enables town and parish councils and community organisations to take forward small scale, site-specific developments without the need to go through the normal planning procedures - providing that the proposals meet certain criteria and there is community backing in a local referendum.

If you wish to start this process please contact David Parkes at our offices for more information or visit Understanding your Commuity Right to Build.




What evidence do we need to back up our Neighbourhood Plan?


Guidance on creating an appropriate evidence base is available at: How to gather and use evidence. The first stage is to gather basic information about the issues you might want to cover in your plane, and finding out what local people think of them. A neighbourhood plan needs to reflect what the community wants to see happen and it should respond to local issues. Some of the themes you might want to consider are:

  • Community resilience
  • Education
  • Transport and connectivity
  • Business and employment
  • Wildlife
  • Landscape, heritage and the environment
  • Local facilities and services
  • Renewable energy and energy efficiency.




What is the relationship between our Neighbourhood Plan and the Core Strategy and Joint Local Plan?


Neighbourhood Plans must be in conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Development Plan. As at August 2017:

    • for West Devon this is the Core Strategy 2011 and associated documents included in the Local Development Framework, available at http://old.westdevon.gov.uk/article/3237/Local-Development-Framework
    • for South Hams this is the Core Strategy 2006 and associated documents included in the Local Development Framework, available at http://old.southhams.gov.uk/article/3234/Local-Development-Framework

For further information please download the relevant list of strategic policies, available at link

The Joint Local Plan (JLP) is also relevant as when it is adopted it will become the Local Development Plan for both South Hams and West Devon. Neighbourhood Plans should therefore also be in conformity with the JLP in order to ensure that they are not out of date as soon as the JLP is adopted.

Please see our information page for links to resources and information on the JLP




Is there a service delivery agreement between Neighbourhood Planning groups and South Hams and West Devon Councils?


Yes. – we have an internal offer of service which can be found on our information page.




What is the criteria for meeting Basic Conditions?


The ‘Basic Conditions’ that a neighbourhood plan must comply with are set out in paragraph 8(2) of Schedule 4B to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. They are:

  • having regard to national policies and advice contained in guidance issued by the Secretary of State it is appropriate to make the neighbourhood plan
  • the ‘making’ of the neighbourhood plan contributes to the achievement of sustainable development
  • the ‘making’ of the neighbourhood plan is in general conformity with the strategic policies contained in the development plan for the area of the authority (or any part of that area)
  • the ‘making’ of the neighbourhood plan does not breach, and is otherwise compatible with EU obligations
  • prescribed conditions are met in relation to the neighbourhood plan and prescribed matters have been complied with in connection with the proposal for the neighbourhood plan

The prescribed condition is that the ‘making’ of the neighbourhood plan is not likely to have a significant effect on a European site (as defined in the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2012) or a European offshore marine site (as defined in the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2007) (either alone or in combination with other plans or projects). This is covered by the HRA screening – see below.

See our information page for links to guidance on this




What is an SEA and HRA and how do we get one?


Upon request we will ‘screen’ your plan to see if it requires a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) or a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) – this is an essential part of the process that we will undertake for you. We aim to provide a response within 10 weeks, which include the statutory consultation we are required to undertake

If the screening we carry out indicates that a full report is required, then you may be able to get help with this through the DCLG Technical Support Package available via Locality at https://mycommunity.org.uk/take-action/neighbourhood-planning/support-grants/.




Is there a template or format we should use for the draft plan?


One of the best things about neighbourhood plans is their individuality and the fact that they can be very different to suit local circumstances. We don’t provide a template for neighbourhood plans because a generic template is unlikely to suit all situations. However there are many good examples of adopted neighbourhood plans on the internet.




How long will it take you to respond to my query?


That really depends on what query you have, or what stage of the Neighbourhood Planning Process you're at. The bullet points below will give you an indication of how long each stage of the process will take. For general enquiries, we aim to respond within one week.

  • SEA/HRA screening: draft 4 weeks, final 10 weeks.
  • Designation (Reg 5A, 6,6A 7) – either within 20 weeks or 13 depending on the nature of the application
  • Reg 14 comments – 6 weeks
  • Reg 15 - we aim to check and acknowledge a submitted plan in two weeks
  • Reg 16 - we aim to start the consultation within three weeks of receiving your submitted plan. The consultation itself will take at least 6 weeks.
  • Reg 17 - we aim to engage examiner and send the plan to the within 4 weeks from the end of the Reg 16 consultation.




Where can I find more information?


We have a number of downloadable documents and guidance notes available on our Downloads Page. If you have questions that we haven't answered here, please Contact Us and we will do our best to assist you.