Protection & planning

Local action

Neighbourhood plans

Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) By Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Published 13 December, 2012

Following the 2010 General Election one of the new Government’s main priorities was localism. A key part of this is the aim to return planning powers to local people. To try and achieve this, the Government has created a new neighbourhood planning tier that is led by the community, rather than the relevant district, county or unitary council.

Neighbourhood planning was formally introduced by the Localism Act 2011, which, along with associated regulations, lays out all the processes for preparing and putting in place neighbourhood planning tools.

What are Neighbourhood Plans?

Local Plans lay out a vision for future development of a whole area. However, the needs of individual towns and villages within that area can vary. Neighbourhood Plans address the needs of these individual communities. They are community-led and can be written by town or parish councils, or where there is no town or parish council by a specially-created neighbourhood forum.

Neighbourhood Plans (sometimes called Neighbourhood Development Plans) are optional documents so not every area may have one or chose to develop one.

What can a Neighbourhood Plan do?

A Neighbourhood Plan can:

  • Decide where and what type of development should happen in the neighbourhood
  • Promote more development than is set out in the Local Plan
  • Include policies, for example regarding design standards, that take precedence over existing policies in the Local Plan for the neighbourhood – provided the Neighbourhood Plan policies do not conflict with the strategic policies in the Local Plan.

What cannot be done with a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan cannot

  • Conflict with the strategic policies in the Local Plan prepared by the local planning authority
  • Be used to prevent development that is included in the Local Plan
  • Be prepared by a body other than a parish or town council or a neighbourhood forum.

What can a Neighbourhood Plan contain?

So long as your Neighbourhood Plan complies with the above principles, it can be as narrow or as broad as you wish. But it must be primarily about the use and development of land and buildings. It can also have a say in how buildings should look (their ‘design’), or the materials they are constructed from. In areas with a historic interest this may be of particular use in preserving the character of the area.

Typical things that a Neighbourhood Plan might include

Neighbourhood plans may include provisions for many different types of development in the local areas. Typical things that relate to heritage or the historic character of an area might include

  • Protection of important buildings and historic assets such as archaeological remains.
  • The design of buildings.
  • Protection and creation of open space, nature reserves, allotments, sports pitches, play areas, parks and gardens, and the planting of trees.
  • The restriction of certain types of development and change of use, for example to avoid too much of one type of use.

Getting Started

If your local area is considering developing a Neighbourhood Plan it is useful to liaise with your local planning authority.

CPRE has developed a useful eight-step guide on how to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan. This can be viewed at: or full link

Where to find out more

Information on Neighbourhood Planning

Neighbourhood planning and the environment

Neighbourhood Planning and the historic environment