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Neighbourhood Areas - How to Apply

The statutory requirements

The full procedure for preparing Neighbourhood Plans is set out in the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012. The Localism Act also sets out a number of requirements for the neighbourhood planning process.

The first stage is to apply for neighbourhood area designation. This will be the area to which the policies from a future Neighbourhood Plan or Neighbourhood Development Order will apply.

Who prepares the application?

Neighbourhood Plans must be initiated and prepared by a ‘qualifying body’. This will either be a Parish or Town Council if there is one for the whole or any part of the area. In a non-parished area, a neighbourhood forum will need to be formed and approved by your local planning authority.

The neighbourhood area can include the whole or any part of the parish. It must not overlap with any other designated neighbourhood areas.

It may be better for you to work with nearby parishes to produce a Neighbourhood Plan for a cluster of villages. We encourage parishes to work together and share resources if you have similar issues affecting your area. It’s also recommended if your parish contains only smaller villages or hamlets with only a very limited number of sites appropriate for development or where there are very few ‘options’ for growth. A particular opportunity in the National Park is to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan following landscape or natural features e.g. parishes sharing a river valley. The very first Neighbourhood Plan to be fully adopted was for a cluster of 13 parishes in the Upper Eden Valley in Cumbria.

If the neighbourhood area covers more than one parish then on of the parish councils must be identified as the ‘lead’ council who will apply for the area to be designated and submit the plan to the local planning authority. The lead parish council must have written consent from other parish councils within the area. The following parishes are currently preparing a joint Neighbourhood Development Plan:

If your parish council is considering making an application for the designation of a neighbourhood area, you should notify all parish councils adjoining or near to the proposed area.

What must the application include?

All applications for neighbourhood area designation should include:

  • An Ordnance Survey map of the area (copyright information should be displayed). Read our guidelines on mapping.

If the proposed neighbourhood area crosses the National Park boundary, the map must clearly show the boundary or identify the area which is within the National Park.

  • A statement explaining why the area is appropriate. This should be short, clear and address why it is an appropriate unit for planning matters. It could also include a description of how the area was chosen.
  • A statement that the organisation or body making the application is a ‘relevant body’ (i.e. the body or organisation making the application is a parish council).

Applications for the designation of a neighbourhood area wholly or partly* within the National Park should be sent to:

Neighbourhood Planning, South Downs National Park Authority, South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9DH

*Where proposed neighbourhood areas cover more than one local planning authority area, the application must be made to each LPA who will work together on the next steps to be taken.

How will the application be publicised and the designation made?

We will publicise your application on our website and invite representations from interested parties for a minimum period of six weeks. A copy of your application will be available to view at the South Downs Centre in Midhurst. We also ask you to think about other ways to publicise the application in your local area, for example through community Facebook pages, twitter, meetings, noticeboards etc.

In general most neighbourhood areas are agreed but in rare cases we may ask for it to be modified. For cross-boundary applications, our decision will only relate to the part of the proposed neighbourhood area within the National Park.

All designations are publicised on our website and your approved neighbourhood area will be included on our map of all the designated- eighbourhood areas.