Bassetlaw District Council will be one of just seven Local Authority areas in the country to pilot a ‘Simpler Approach to Neighbourhood Planning’, supported by up to £45,000 of Government funding.
Bassetlaw has been at the forefront of community-led planning since it was introduced by the 2011 Localism Act and is already supporting 32 communities across the district with Neighbourhood Plans.
Neighbourhood Plans give communities a greater say in guiding development in their areas, for example choosing where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built, in addition to what these new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided.
The ‘Simpler Approach to Neighbourhood Planning’ pilot, overseen by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, will support local councils to explore innovative ways to get even more people involved in community-led planning.
Bassetlaw’s share of the fund will support pilot projects in at least three communities and will help them to develop a better understanding of their local area, before considering if and how a Neighbourhood Plan could help to manage it.
Cllr Jo White, Cabinet Member for Regeneration at Bassetlaw District Council, said: “As one of the authorities that have taken a lead in the development of Neighbourhood Plans, the opportunity to participate in this pilot is welcomed. We are already working in partnership with 32 communities across the district to empower them and give them a greater say in the planning process, so we are excited to be part of this pilot.
“Thanks to this funding we can explore different approaches and enable more communities to engage in the Neighbourhood Plan process, ultimately giving them more of a say on development in their areas.”
The Bassetlaw pilot will explore how the introduction of an initial ‘understanding’ phase will help communities to develop a bespoke ‘place profile’, before considering if and how this could provide a firm foundation for a Neighbourhood Plan to follow.
By working with at least three distinct communities, the pilot will allow different approaches to be trialled, such as the use of digital technologies to capture and share local data. This will also help to assess if this approach is more effective in some settings than others.
The Council has been a proactive supporter of Neighbourhood Planning from the start and, in partnership with enthusiastic communities, 20 Neighbourhood Plans have been completed in Bassetlaw, with more under development or review.
This experience puts the Council in a strong position to reflect on how the current system works and how potential changes could make the process more engaging for all involved.
Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, added: “Local people know their areas best and by getting involved in neighbourhood planning, they can properly influence future development in their communities.
“Through these pilots, we are giving more people, and particularly those from under-represented areas, the tools they need to influence decisions that affect their lives.
“Over 1,200 communities across England have completed a neighbourhood plan, and more than 2,800 have started the neighbourhood planning process.”
Further details on each project will be published as the pilots progress.