Neighbourhood Plans were introduced by the Localism Act 2011. They enable communities to have a say about the development and growth of their local area by introducing local planning policies which (if the Neighbourhood Plan is successful at examination and referendum) form part of the statutory Development Plan. This means the Neighbourhood Plan must to be taken into account when assessing planning applications for new development in that area.
There are several basic stages in the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan, several of which are governed by specific legislation:
Form a steering group
Define the Neighbourhood Area (the area you want your plan to cover)
Engage the community and gather evidence on the key issues to be addressed within the plan
Prepare and consult on a draft Neighbourhood Plan
Submit the Neighbourhood Plan to local authority
Independent examination of the Neighbourhood Plan
Community referendum on the Neighbourhood Plan
Making (adoption) of the Neighbourhood Plan by local authority
Responsibility for preparing a Neighbourhood Plan rests with the relevant town or parish councils, or, in cases where there is no such body, a properly constituted neighbourhood forum.
You can find more information from the main, national source of support for neighbourhood planning by visiting the Locality website. The Planning Practice Guidance website also provides further information on the preparation of Neighbourhood Plans.