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Neighbourhood planning: Unlocking the potential of community engagement in a reformed planning system

Research output: Other contribution

Publication date13/04/2021
DescriptionBriefing paper for UK Government (Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Number of pages5
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This briefing has been developed in consultation with some of the leading academics and stakeholder organisations in the field of neighbourhood planning (NP), to inform Government thinking on the role and function of NP in a reformed system. The recommendations are based on participants’ extensive experience of delivering, supporting and researching neighbourhood planning.
Government’s apparent commitment to retain NP is welcome, and the group consider that it should be strengthened. This should be an opportunity to embed NP as a key means of community engagement and influence in the planning system. Greater community engagement, in the form of NP and more generally, is widely acknowledged to deliver better planning outcomes: more beauty; better quality; greener, healthier, better connected developments and places. An effective system of NP will be even more critical to achieving these outcomes if LPAs are consolidated at unitary level, opening an even larger gap between communities and strategic local planning. Six key issues have been identified as essential for NP to succeed in delivering better planning outcomes as part of a reformed system. Addressing these issues will enable NP to help restore public trust in planning and make significant contributions to the national priorities of building back better, levelling up, recovering nature, and mitigating and adapting to climate change.
The proposed reforms provide an opportunity to build on increasing community solidarity and volunteering during the Covid crisis, and learn from the achievements and deficiencies of ten years of NP, to enable communities to become more engaged and resilient and play a greater role in shaping the future of their neighbourhoods. Our central proposition is that for communities to be motivated to undertake, review and update NPs, they must have real and substantial influence over placemaking in their area, while also making planning policy more accessible to more people. The recommendations in this paper will help achieve this.