Neighbourhood Planning A Report by Cllr. Ian Richardson


The main difficulty with this subject is the sheer volume of information which, to the layman, will look unduly complex, daunting and full of jargon.  In the first instance, Cllr. Richardson has focussed on seeing the wood from the trees, to understand the priorities and the process to follow.  To that end, this report summarises the first steps to be taken.


National Policy Framework for Development Planning to 2026 :

In its simplest terms, the National Policy drives Wiltshire Policy which in turn drives Community Policy.  Conversely, the Community Plan must enable Wiltshire Plans which in turn enables National Plans.


Semantics :

Neighbourhood Planning refers to the process of determining what is required.

A Neighbourhood Plan is one of the outcomes of the process.

Confusingly, Neighbourhood Plan is also used as a group noun, referring to a number of possible options, where a Neighbour Plan is but one specific option which we may choose to meet the needs of our Parish.  [see below regarding possible options]

Wiltshire Council call their Local Plan the Core Strategy, within which there are 69 Core Policies, some but not all of which will affect Westwood Parish.


Key facts about our Parish :

The Wiltshire Core Strategy identifies Westwood as a “Large Village” and has, as such, a settlement boundary defining the current limits of development.  [Maps held].

Iford and Avoncliff are smaller and further development is restricted.  Also, they are in the Green Belt.  [see Core Strategy, Core Policy 1]


There are two stages :


Stage 1 concerns Scoping and comprises 4 key steps :

1.       Process initiated by a qualifying body, such as the Parish Council.

2.       Establish a Steering Group.

3.       Develop our objectives, priorities and vision.  This will involve significant community engagement.

4.       Select the most appropriate approach.


Neighbourhood Planning is NOT compulsory. 

For your information at this stage, without any prejudgement of the best approach for Westwood Parish, some of the options include :

·         Local Plan [Core Strategy] Policy.  [the Core Policies meet our needs as they stand]

·         Village Design Statement.  [Rushall’s chosen approach]

·         Neighbourhood Development Plan.  [Malmesbury’s chosen approach]

·         Community Plan.  [Aldbourne’s chosen approach]


If the Neighbourhood Planning approach is agreed, the following steps are :

·         Define the neighbourhood area [eg; this may confirm or seek to approve a change to the existing boundary].

·         Submit our application.

·         6 week period of consultation [managed by Wiltshire Council].


Stage 2, concerns the Delivery of our Neighbourhood Plan, if this is our chosen approach and our application is approved.


Timescale :

Typically, if we should follow Stages 1 and 2 of the Neighbourhood Planning process, we should expect to cover a period of 18 moths to 2 years.


Funding :

The Department for Communities & Local Government has made £10.5M available to provide support and grants to help create neighbourhood plans across the country.  Clearly, our funding requirements will need to be concerned as we go through Stage 1.


Neighbouring Parishes :

During Stage 1, the scope of our approach may determine the need to establish a relationship with one or more of our neighbouring parishes.

In any event, we would be well advised to learn from Freshford who have just finished their consultation period  [see 5.vii].


Key Decisions, Actions and Recommendations :

NOTE. It was proposed that the following matters should be the subject of formal resolutions. These resolutions were the subject of a vote at the Parish Council meeting Agenda item 10.


The Council is to be the Qualifying Body for the purpose of initiating the Neighbourhood Planning process for this parish.

The Council is to establish the Westwood Parish Neighbourhood Planning Steering Committee [the NPSG], concerning which :

·         Cllr. Richardson is nominated the Chair.

·         Cllrs. Parker and Bishop are nominated members.

·         Cllr. Richardson is nominated the Secretary or Clerk.

The Council is to agree that the following key agenda items be addressed at the inaugural meeting of the NPSG :

·         To agree the Terms of Reference.

·         To agree the process for inviting members of the Westwood Parish community to participate in the NPSG.

·         To agree the process for carrying out Stage 1 steps 5(iii). and (iv).

·         To agree our initial responses to the following 12 questions posed by Wiltshire Council [see list].

·         To submit these initial responses to Wiltshire Council, and to request that a Link Office be assigned to the NPSG.

The Council is to agree that this meeting should be held before the next Parish Council meeting on Monday, 7th April, at which meeting a report should be presented.

The Council is to agree that Neighbourhood Planning should be a key topic for the Annual Parish meeting to be held on Wednesday, 7th May.

The Council is to agree that there should be a regular article for the Westwood Update during the course of the Neighbourhood Planning process, starting with the next publication due out later this month.


A summary list of key websites, portals and documents is available on request.


List 12 Questions Posed by Wiltshire Council


1.       Define the geographic area for our proposed neighbourhood plan ?

2.       What are the key planning issues in our area ?

3.       In what way(s) would a neighbourhood plan help our community deliver the priorities set out within the Wiltshire Core Strategy ?

4.       Are there any specific outcomes we are looking to achieve through a neighbourhood planning process ?

5.       Are there specific proposals we are seeking planning permission for ?

6.       Are we seeking to allocate a site for development, or to be more permissive towards development within your area ?

7.       Have we looked at the guidance presented on the Neighbourhood Planning website; and are there any other mechanisms that may deliver your outcomes, such as for example, a Village Design Statement ?

8.       It is estimated that the neighbourhood planning process will take 1-2 years; does this match our timeframe ?

9.       Do we have a budget and volunteers to help with consultation activities ?

10.   To what extent will we be looking to Wiltshire Council to help resource your proposals for a neighbourhood plan ?

11.   Have we previously considered any other route to meet our community aspirations ?  If so, what were they and why have they been dismissed ?

12.   Have we developed a steering group to manage the process ?  If so, can we outline the membership and explain roles and responsibilities ?


Neighbourhood Planning Links & Resources List

Neighbour Planning :


Neighbour Planning Quick Guide

Neighbour Planning Guide

Neighbour Planning Road Map

Funding Support & Grants

Workshops 1 & 2 Resources

Environmental Assessment of Neighbourhood Plans Guide


Planning Aid :



Core Strategy :


Core Strategy Pre-Submission

Sustainability Appraisal & Strategic Environmental Assessment Report

Bradford-on-Avon, Melksham, Trowbridge & Westbury Community Area Map

 Originally published with the March 2014 Minutes

Article published: 14 Oct 2014
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