Neighbourhood Planning

Neighbourhood planning was introduced as a new power to communities by the Localism Act 2011. Local planning authorities have a legal duty to support the development of neighbourhood plans and orders.

A neighbourhood plan can establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood, including:

  • where new homes and offices should be built

  • what they should look like

  • what new community facilities are needed and where.

Successful neighbourhood plans will form part of the development plan used by Epsom and Ewell Borough Council in determining planning applications.

There are two types of neighbourhood planning:

  • neighbourhood plans

  • neighbourhood development orders

Is neighbourhood planning right for my community?

Neighbourhood planning is designed to be a positive process, aimed at planning for new development to meet local needs. It cannot be used to stop development in an area, but it can help to shape and guide where development is located.

Potential benefits:

  • allow communities to take responsibility for deciding the future of their area

  • gain an understanding of local issues and how to address them

  • opportunity to bring a community together.

Potential disadvantages:

  • difficult issues will need to be dealt with

  • will require extensive resources and commitment, lengthy process

  • unlikely that everyone in the community will be happy with the outcome.

Neighbourhood plans

A neighbourhood plan will form part of the borough’s statutory development plan which will be used in the determination of planning applications.

Neighbourhood plans must be in general conformity with the strategic policies within the adopted local plan. This includes up to date housing targets.

Neighbourhood development orders

These can grant planning permission for certain types of development without the need to submit a planning application to the council.

Examples could include:

  • minor residential development such as extensions or windows

  • town centre development such as changes of use or signage

  • minor development in an industrial estate.

Neighbourhood Planning in Epsom & Ewell

Establishing a forum and area

There are no Parishes within Epsom and Ewell, therefore communities that wish to prepare a neighbourhood plan are first required to make an application to the Local Planning Authority to establish themselves as a Neighbourhood Forum and make an application to define the Neighbourhood Area they will cover.

When thinking about preparing a Neighbourhood Plan it is important to consider that:

  • The neighbourhood plan focuses on a local area rather than the whole borough

  • There can only be one neighbourhood plan for an area

  • Producing a neighbourhood plan is not a legal requirement.  It can be a time consuming and lengthy process and is produced by a community/ neighbourhood group (forum) voluntarily and in consultation with local residents, businesses and other interested parties.

  • As the neighbourhood plan is community-led, the forum members that develop the neighbourhood plan will need to be from the area and reflect the area’s demographic profile in terms of age, ethnicity, disability, and gender

  • The neighbourhood plan will plan positively to support local development and will be required to operate within the parameters of national planning policy, local development plan policies and EU obligations and human rights requirements

  • Neighbourhood plans policies cannot block, reduce or be used to oppose development that may be allocated for the area in a local plan, though they can shape and influence where development could go, what it could look like and the infrastructure needed to support it.

Preparing a neighbourhood plan

Once a neighbourhood forum has been established, the forum can prepare to write a neighbourhood plan.  In order to develop the aims and outcomes of the plan policies, the neighbourhood plan must be based on evidence and consultations with the local community.  Community engagement is necessary at all stages of the plan-making process.

Submitting a neighbourhood plan

The proposed neighbourhood plan will need to be submitted to the Epsom and Ewell Borough Council.  Providing that the plan is acceptable, the proposed neighbourhood plan will need to be publicised.  It will also need to be submitted for an independent examination and subsequently a public referendum.

Further information and advice:

• National Planning Practice Guidance on Neighbourhood Planning:
• Planning Advisory Service Neighbourhood planning guidance:
• Neighbourhood Planning, Locality
• Neighbourhood Planning regulatory process: The Neighbourhood Planning (general) Regulations 2012.