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Neighbourhood planning process to speed up

Local authorities will have 13 weeks to make a decision on applications to create a ‘neighbourhood area’, with this reduced to eight weeks where applications follow a parish boundary.

The new measures are part of a raft of proposals announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to speed up and simplify the neighbourhood planning process.

More than five million people live in one of the 1,274 areas across England where the community is working together to create a neighbourhood plan. However, the average time it takes to agree the process is 19 weeks.

The DCLG, in a consultation launched last July, had proposed a 10-week deadline for local authorities to consider neighbourhood area applications, if they followed parish or electoral ward boundaries.

But, following responses to the consultation, this was reduced to eight. If, however, an application covers more than one local authority the deadline will be 20 weeks. For all other application the period will be 13 weeks.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis said: “We’re seeing a genuine neighbourhood planning movement with communities in almost two-thirds of local authorities already using these powers to shape what gets built where in their local area.

“Now I want to go further and see more communities making the most of the powers we’ve put in their hands. These measures will speed up the process, making it quicker and easier to get a neighbourhood plan together so that the views of local people are written clearly in black and white for developers and councils to see, and ensure that future development in those areas delivers the homes communities themselves want to see.”

The DCLG also expressed support for its suggestion that neighbourhood area applications should be automatically designated if authorities do not make a decision within the deadline, saying it would “consult on more detailed proposals”.

But the department’s latest document said the government will not go ahead with plans to scrap the statutory six-week publicity period before the draft plan is submitted for examination.

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