New section 61E: Neighbourhood Development Orders
265.New section 61E empowers either a parish council or a neighbourhood forum (as “qualifying bodies”) to initiate the process for making a neighbourhood development order. It also places a duty on local planning authorities to make a neighbourhood development order as soon as reasonably practicable, if there is a referendum vote in favour of the order in each applicable referendum under new Schedule 4B. This is except in the narrow circumstances in which the authority considers that making the order would be incompatible with any EU obligation (a term which is defined in Schedule 1 to the European Communities Act 1972) or any of the rights under the European Convention on Human Rights which are referred to in section 1 of the Human Rights Act 1998. New section 61E(5) empowers, but does not require, the local planning authority to make a neighbourhood development order if there is a referendum vote in favour of the order in one of the referendums (but not the other) held in a business neighbourhood area designated under new section 61H (where there are two applicable referendums – one of residents and one of non-domestic rate payers). The new section also confers powers on the Secretary of State to make regulations about the procedure to be followed by a local planning authority where it intends to refuse to make a neighbourhood development order despite a “yes” vote in a referendum. For example, requirements to consult before making a final decision could be imposed, as well as requirements for the local planning authority to give notice that they propose to refuse to make an order.