The Localism Act 2011 gave communities a greater say in the development of their area, including the right for communities to develop a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP).
An NDP is a community-led framework for guiding the future development and growth of an area. It may contain a vision, aims, planning policies, proposals for improving the area or providing new facilities, or allocation of key sites for specific kind of development. Neighbourhood Plans relate to the use and development of land and associated social, economic and environmental issues. They may deal with a wide range of issues such as housing, employment, heritage and transport, or they may focus on one or two issues that are of particular importance in a local area.
There are however certain restrictions or constraints – all NDPs must meet Basic Conditions (see next paragraph) – most importantly, the Welwyn Parish NDP cannot conflict with Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s (WHBC) Local Development Plan. Any NDP must encourage sustainable development and is subject to examination and referendum. If passed by a majority, it then forms part of WHBC’s Local Development Plan, giving it statutory status.
The Basic Conditions for NDPs are specified by law. They must:
- be appropriate, having regard to national policy
- contribute to the achievement of sustainable development
- be in general conformity with the strategic policies in the development plan for the local area
- be compatible with Human Rights requirements
- be compatible with any residual EU obligations