Enforcing Neighbourhood Plans

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Do es any-one have experience of enforcing a Neighbourhood Plan?  Ours was 'made' in March this year and the Parish Council has been referring to the policies in it when responding to planning applications.  

Recently a parishioner has pointed out that a developer has encroached onto land designated as an open space in the Neighbourhood Plan.  Also, we have a current planning application which would impact the skyline of an area designated as an important view in the Neighbourhood Plan.  This is a new for us and I wondered if any-one else has any experience with this?

asked by (590 points)

1 Answer

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Is the plan you refer to produced by the Parish Council  or is it a Local Plan devised by the Principal Authority?  Whatever a Town or Parrish Council aspires to do in their neighbourhood plan they cannot take enforcement action against breaches of Planning regulations - that is the remit of the Principal Authority.  Nor can they designate areas that are to be classes as open spaces.  Town & Parish Councils are not empowered to function as planning authorities.
answered by (6.5k points)
Thank you for responding.  The Neighbourhood Plan was sponsored by the Parish Council and having been 'made' following independent examination and referendum, I understand it now has the force of law so that the Borough Council is required to have regard to the policies in it when determining planning applications.
According to the NPPF:
"The designation of land as Local Green Space through local and neighbourhood plans allows communities to identify and protect green areas of particular importance to them. Designating land as Local Green Space should be consistent with the local planning of sustainable development and complement investment in sufficient homes, jobs and other essential services. Local Green Spaces should only be designated when a plan is prepared or updated, and be capable of enduring beyond the end of the plan period.
100. The Local Green Space designation should only be used where the green space is:
a) in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves;
b) demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife; and
c) local in character and is not an extensive tract of land.
101. Policies for managing development within a Local Green Space should be consistent with those for Green Belts."

Sadly the latest version of the NPPF has not strengthened the LGS designation, with the weakness that a LGS can be treated in the same way as Green Belt - i.e. it can be built on!

As to the protection of the skyline designated as an important view in the Neighbourhood Plan, I don't think you will have much luck either. At a lengthy Public Inquiry into a NHP that I attended, the developers barrister argued that although a view may be lost to some residents, the new residents in the new development would gain a view!

One problem with NHP's is that as they age, they loose their weight in planning terms. This commits the Parish Council to ensure it is updated on a regular basis of 2-5 years. Quite a commitment from the heady days when the Localism act came into force and NHP's would be examined with a 'light touch'. District councils & developers have certainly made it a much more difficult process to complete a plan.
Good point. There is no automatic entitlement to "a nice view" in planning law.
I should have said that a Town or Parish Council can't in isolation designate open spaces but can recommend their designation in their neighbourhood plan (NP). They become open spaces if the local planning authority gives force to the NP.

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