Neighbourhood planning

Neighbourhood planning is the government's reform agenda which aims to:

  • incentivise housing and economic growth
  • put more power into the hands of local people
  • deliver a simpler planning system

It was introduced through the Localism Act and Neighbourhood Planning Regulations 2012. Further information can be accessed on the Department for Communities and Local Government website.

What is neighbourhood planning?

Neighbourhood Planning:

  • provides communities with the opportunity to prepare planning policies for their area
  • is a community initiated process, led by the business and residential communities, and not the council
  • is not compulsory, it is not about strategic issues and it is not about stopping development

What is a neighbourhood plan?

A neighbourhood plan:

  • is applicable to a specific community area
  • forms part of the statutory development plan, once adopted
  • needs to have regard to national planning policy and to be in general conformity with strategic policies

Local or neighbourhood forums decide on the scope of issues and the policies to be covered (currently Poole has two, Broadstone and Poole Quays).

Neighbourhood forum

The role of the neighbourhood forum is to:

  • instigate the process of preparing the neighbourhood plan
  • lead on the plan preparation
  • involve key organisations and individuals in preparing the plan
  • keep people informed of progress on the plan
  • prepare the required evidence
  • ensure the required statutory duties are undertaken

Neighbourhood planning can be undertaken by a designated 'neighbourhood forum' which should have a written constitution and comprise of a minimum of 21 forum members.

All forum members should live or work in the neighbourhood area. The forum should also comprise of at least 1 elected member of a council body within which the plan areas falls.

We advocate a steering group approach when developing a neighbourhood plan. This should be led by the chair of a neighbourhood forum and have a wide representation from the local community so there is a balance of social, environmental and economic interests represented. This will give more confidence to local communities that the work is being taken forward by people who genuinely represent the community's needs as a whole.

Clear terms of reference should be agreed at the outset. At this stage, you might want to consider how the steering group is going to engage with the local community and begin to prepare an action plan and timetable for the initial stages of neighbourhood plan preparation – defining objectives, priorities and a vision for your neighbourhood plan.

If a neighbourhood plan is considered the most appropriate approach to delivering your vision and objectives, the first stage is defining your neighbourhood area. The steering group should consider the most suitable area to plan for. A large scale map of the area and a discussion with the steering group is a good place to start. You may wish to consider: 

  • the physical boundaries of the area
  • social, economic and other characteristics of the area
  • interactions with neighbouring wards/communities

Read more about the Neighbourhood Plan key stages.

Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders

Read more about Neighbourhood Planning/Community Right to Build and the powers available to carry out development.

The role of the Local Planning Authority (LPA)

The role of the Local Planning Authority is to:

  • support and advise
  • set the strategic planning context for the plan
  • designate neighbourhood forums if applications are received
  • designate neighbourhood areas if applications are received
  • consult on the plan submitted to the local planning authority
  • apply a validation check of the plan
  • arrange the examination and referendum
  • adopt the plan

Neighbourhood areas cannot be designated until a neighbourhood forum is established, therefore we advise applicants to apply for both designations at the same time. We have created guidance notes to help you complete your application.

Contact details


01202 633321

Growth and Infrastructure
BCP Council
Civic Centre
BH15 2RU 

Page last updated: 04 December 2019
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