Schedule 10: Process for Making of Neighbourhood Development Orders
283.Schedule 10 of the Localism Act makes further provisions about making neighbourhood development orders and plans by inserting a new Schedule 4B into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
284.Paragraph 1 of Schedule 4B makes provision in connection with proposals to local planning authorities for neighbourhood development orders or plans. It allows the Secretary of State to prescribe the form of any such proposals in regulations and to require that other documents and information must accompany them. In addition, the Secretary of State may set minimum standards for the documentation which needs to be submitted along with proposal for plans or orders. These standards, as well as requirements set out in regulations under this paragraph, would be mandatory – i.e. a failure to meet them would result in an application being rejected – see paragraph 6(2) of Schedule 4B.
285.Paragraph 2 of Schedule 4B allows a qualifying body to withdraw its proposals for a plan or order at any time before the local planning authority makes a decision on the examiner’s recommendations. Because of paragraph 7 each draft plan and order will be subject to examination by an independent person who will report back to the local planning authority recommending either that the plan or order is refused or put to a referendum (with or without modifications). Paragraph 2 also provides for what happens to proposals made by a qualifying body or designated neighbourhood forum whose designation is withdrawn – with submission to independent examination being the key point in making the decision as to whether proposals should be seen as valid (see paragraph 2(2) and 2(3)).
286.Paragraph 3 of Schedule 4B places a duty on local planning authorities to provide advice and assistance to qualifying bodies in developing proposals for plans or orders. This support could involve providing technical advice on how to draw up an order or plan or facilitating consultations with the public on proposals. There is no requirement here on local planning authorities to provide financial assistance.
287.Paragraphs 4 to 6 of Schedule 4B set out the arrangements for neighbourhood development orders and plans before they are submitted to independent examination. Paragraph 4 allows the Secretary of State to prescribe further requirements in regulations that must be complied with before proposals are submitted to a local planning authority. Paragraph 4(3) specifically requires the Secretary of State to use his or her regulation-making powers to prescribe consultation requirements which must be complied with before a neighbourhood planning proposal can be submitted to a local planning authority, including the requirement to submit a statement about the consultation carried out. Again, a failure to comply with these requirements will be a ground upon which a local planning authority is to reject an application. The regulations may make provision on procedural matters, for example, about notifying people or bodies and about consultation with and participation by the public.
288.Paragraph 5 of Schedule 4B allows a local planning authority to decline repeat proposals. These are proposals which are similar to other ones which have been made up to two years previously and which were refused by a local planning authority or which did not get sufficient votes in a referendum.
289.Paragraph 6 of Schedule 4B sets out matters which the local planning authorities must be satisfied with before proposals for a plan or order can be submitted to independent examination. This includes checking whether the body making the application is a qualified applicant – i.e. a parish council or designated neighbourhood forum, and that the application meets the requirements set out in legislation and regulations, including the requirement for a consultation statement under paragraph 4 (see paragraph 6(2)(d)). The local planning authority must notify the applicant whether or not the proposals will be submitted for examination and, if not, the reasons for refusing it.
290.Paragraphs 7 to 11 of Schedule 4B set out the arrangements for the independent examination of proposed orders and plans.
291.Paragraph 7 of Schedule 4B empowers the local planning authority to appoint an examiner, but only with the agreement of the parish council or neighbourhood forum. The Secretary of State may appoint an examiner if no agreement can be reached. The paragraph also requires that the examiner is independent of the body making the proposals and the local planning authority, and that he or she must not have any interest in land affected by the proposals and must have appropriate qualifications and experience.
292.Paragraph 8 of Schedule 4B lists the matters that the examiner must consider in their examination of the proposed plan or order. These include whether the plan or order is appropriate having regard to national policy, whether it contributes to the achievement of sustainable development, whether it is in general conformity with the strategic policies in the local development plan and whether the order is compatible with EU obligations. There is also a basic condition relating only to orders (see new section 38C(5)(d) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004) relating to the appropriateness of an order having regard to considerations relating to listed buildings and conservation areas (paragraph 8(2)(b) and (c) and (3) to (5) of Schedule 4B). The examiner is not able to consider any matter that doesn’t fall within the list of matters in paragraph 8(1) of the Schedule (apart from compatibility with the Convention rights, as defined in the Human Rights Act 1988). The examiner will also consider whether the referendum area should extend beyond the neighbourhood area to which the draft order or plan relates. The paragraph also provides a power to require the examiner to consider such matters as are prescribed in regulations - for example, taking into account an environmental statement which meets the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.
293.Paragraph 9 of Schedule 4B prescribes the general rule that the examination will take the form of consideration of written representations but allows for oral representations. The examiner is required to hold a hearing where they consider oral representations are needed to ensure adequate examination of an issue or to ensure people get a fair chance to put their case. Where there are to be oral representations, the paragraph sets out those bodies who are entitled to be heard, including the parish council or neighbourhood forum promoting the plan or order and the local planning authority. The Secretary of State is given power to prescribe by regulation additional persons who will be entitled to make oral representations at any hearing held into a neighbourhood plan or order. For example, it may be appropriate to permit certain statutory parties to provide oral evidence on a particular issue where they have relevant expertise.
294.Paragraph 10 of Schedule 4B sets out how the examiner must report on proposals for an order or plan, including recommendations on whether the proposals should be put to referendum, or whether any modifications are needed so that the proposals can go to referendum, and whether the referendum area should be extended beyond the neighbourhood area. It may be appropriate to extend the referendum beyond the neighbourhood area to which a plan or order relates if, for example, proposals include development close to the boundary of a neighbourhood area which would have impacts on an adjoining area. The examiner will be obliged to give reasons for recommending a particular course of action and to provide a summary of his or her main findings.
295.Paragraph 11 of Schedule 4B gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations in connection with the independent examination and sets out examples of what provision can be made. For example, regulations may require that notice is given of the time and place of an examination and how that is given and may regulate the procedure at an examination.
296.Paragraph 12 of Schedule 4B sets out the issues to be considered by the local planning authority, following an independent examination, in deciding whether or not a proposed plan or order should be put to a referendum (or referendums in the case of a designated business area) and whether or not the proposed plan or order should be modified. These considerations include the recommendations of the examiner and like the examiner, for example, whether the proposals are appropriate having regard to national policy, whether they are in general conformity with the strategic policies of the local development plan and whether the referendum (or referendums in the case of a business area) should extend beyond the neighbourhood area to which the plan or order relates. The Secretary of State is given power to prescribe matters other than the recommendations in the report that the local planning authority must take into account. This is to ensure that relevant material is considered by the local planning authority before it reaches a decision on a draft order or plan.
297.Paragraph 13 of Schedule 4B provides for the situation where the local planning authority proposes to make a decision that differs from that recommended by the examiner because of new evidence, a new fact or a different view taken by the authority in relation to a particular fact. In such a case, the local planning authority may decide to refer the issue to independent examination. The Secretary of State is given power to make regulations relating to this independent examination. But in any event, in such circumstances the local planning authority is obliged to invite representations on what they propose from such persons as are prescribed in regulations and, by implication, take these into account before reaching a final view.
298.A referendum must be held on a plan or order once it is approved by the local planning authority (with or without modifications) under paragraph 12 of Schedule 4B. Paragraph 14 of Schedule 4B sets out provision in relation to such referendums, including who is responsible for holding the referendum (see paragraph 14(2)), who is entitled to vote in them and which local authorities are responsible for making arrangements for them. Paragraph 15 of Schedule 4B sets out provision in relation to additional referendums held in a designated “business area” (see new section 61H), including who is entitled to vote. The provisions about additional referendums do not apply to community right to build orders, on which only residents will have a vote in a referendum (see paragraph 10(6) of Schedule 4C inserted by Schedule 11). The Secretary of State is given the power to make provision in regulations about referendums, including additional referendums, under paragraph 16 of Schedule 4B – such as about how they are to be conducted (e.g. how postal voting can occur) or to impose duties on local authorities to publicise the time and place of a referendum. Before making these regulations, the Electoral Commission must be consulted by the Secretary of State.