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New powers to give local people unprecedented influence to determine the future of their areas are to be tried out in 36 more front-runner areas, Planning Minister Greg Clark announced today.

These areas are among the first to test out neighbourhood planning, a radical new power being introduced in the Localism Bill, which will give local people a real voice in deciding how development will look in their area.

For the first time, neighbourhood planning will allow communities to shape their own vision for their community, from deciding the locations of shops, offices and schools to setting standards of design for new housing and protecting green spaces of value to the community.

In areas where local people want to see homes and businesses built, neighbourhood planning will allow communities to grant a blanket planning permission for development to go ahead without developers having to make separate applications.

The community has the final say on whether a neighbourhood plan comes into force. If more than 50 per cent of people voting in a local referendum support the plan, then the local planning authority must bring it into force.

Neighbourhood planning is designed to return power to local people and local businesses on planning decisions in contrast to the top-down regional strategies being scrapped by the Government.

Planning Minister Greg Clark said:

"For too long local people have been shut out of the planning process with no real voice to affect decisions about the places where they live. Unpopular regional strategies left people without the ability to influence the future of their community and this fuelled resentment towards growth. Neighbourhood planning will hand power back to communities to decide the vision for their area as they see fit, encouraging people to plan positively for their future. This is localism in action and the enthusiasm across the country for neighbourhood planning shows how keen communities are to get involved."

The 36 areas announced today are the next wave of 'front-runners' to test out neighbourhood planning, bringing the total to 126 across the country. Each front runner's local council is being given £20,000 to support work on neighbourhood planning and free advice from planning experts will be available for the local community. Examples of work to get underway include:

  • In Thame, South Oxfordshire, the town council is focusing their plan on the local need for more affordable housing and transport infrastructure, as well as developing open spaces and protecting the area's cultural heritage.
  • In Northumberland, two rural parishes are concentrating on the need for more affordable housing, a new high school and an education campus.
  • At the industrial estate at Trafford Park, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is working with Trafford Council on a Business Neighbourhood Plan to develop a state of the art, sustainable mixed use environment for high growth.
  • In Sherston, Wiltshire, the Parish Council is aiming to deliver new homes, especially affordable homes for elderly and disabled residents. Their plan will also look at the need for key local infrastructure such as high speed broadband and new schools, as well as opportunities to develop a community orchard.
  • At Uppingham in Rutland, local business and the community are working together on a neighbourhood plan for the town centre that will promote economic growth and social wellbeing.

Source: Department for Communities and Local Government

Written by Matthew Abbott
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 13:01

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