One key question for those preparing Neighbourhood Plans is “What weight can be attached to an emerging neighbourhood plan when determining planning applications? The government (DCLG) guidance is here. It states that,
Planning applications are decided in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. An emerging neighbourhood plan may be a material consideration. Paragraph 216 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) [copied below] sets out the weight that may be given to relevant policies in emerging plans in decision taking. Factors to consider include the stage of preparation of the plan and the extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies.
Whilst a referendum ensures that the community has the final say on whether the neighbourhood plan comes into force, decision makers (particularly at Rother DC) should respect evidence of local support prior to the referendum when seeking to apply weight to an emerging neighbourhood plan. The consultation statement submitted with the draft neighbourhood plan should reveal the quality and effectiveness of the consultation that has informed the Plan proposals. And all representations on the proposals should have been submitted to the local planning authority by the close of the local planning authority’s publicity period. It is for the decision maker in each case to determine what is a material consideration and what weight to give to it.
National Planning Policy Framework – Para 216 From the day of publication, decision-takers may also give weight to relevant policies in emerging plans according to: the stage of preparation of the emerging plan (the more advanced the preparation, the greater the weight that may be given); the extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies (the less significant the unresolved objections, the greater the weight that may be given); and the degree of consistency of the relevant policies in the emerging plan to the policies in this Framework (the closer the policies in the emerging plan to the policies in the Framework, the greater the weight that may be given).
Because of the number of sites around Rye which are earmarked for development and some will be of “community inteterest” , this is a question which interests Rye Neighbourhood Planners. The RNPSG will be seeking further guidance on this and updating the position later.