Neighbourhood plans allow people to decide the future development of their area, including where new homes and businesses should be built, what they should look like and what local infrastructure is needed.
Putting planning power in the hands of local people involves the whole community, from plan drafting to referendum stages.
So far more than 100 areas have voted yes in neighbourhood planning referendums, with more than 8 million people living in areas involved in neighbourhood planning.
And latest figures show that plans for housebuilding are more than 10% higher in the first areas with a neighbourhood plan as opposed to only the council’s local plan.
Nationally planning permissions were granted on almost 250,000 new homes in the last year, with more than one million permissions granted for new homes since 2010 and the National House Building Council saying the number of new homes being registered with it so far this year is 9% higher than a year ago.
Speaking about the second reading of the Housing and Planning Bill, Brandon Lewis said “This government is continuing the huge shift of power from Whitehall to the town hall and to local people. More than 8 million people now live in areas that have had or will have their say on planning in their neighbourhood, and more areas are coming forward every day.”
“We are scrapping the broken old planning system that pitted neighbours and developers against each other, and cornered people into opposing any development in their back yard. The 100 neighbourhood planning referendums show how our approach of getting the whole community working together is paying off, and breaking through local opposition.”
Earlier this year the government opened a neighbourhood planning support programme, including a fund allowing groups to apply for grants of up to £8,000 to help write their plans, pay for events to engage the local community, develop websites and pay for specialist planning expertise. Areas facing more complex issues may be eligible for up to £14,000.
Local people can draw up neighbourhood plans which, once approved, councils are bound to consider as part of the planning process alongside the council’s own local plan for the area.
Separately, neighbourhood development orders can grant planning permission for specific types of development in a particular neighbourhood. Both require support of 50% of voters in a local referendum.
Every one of the more than 100 neighbourhood plans submitted to a local referendum has been approved by local people.