At the LLRA AGM, on 22 May at 7pm in the Discovery Cafe, residents will be asked to decide whether the LLRA should lead the development of a Neighbourhood Plan for Long Leys. This would involve producing a long-term vision and plan for the Long Leys area, based on community-wide consultation, allowing us to play a strong role in shaping the area we live in.
In advance of the AGM, the information below explains how the process of developing a Neighbourhood Plan would work. Please do come along to the AGM to discuss and vote on this proposal. As time is short at the AGM, discussion will be primarily focused on whether a Neighbourhood Plan should be developed in principle; not on the specific detail that should be contained in the plan.
If you are unable to attend the AGM, please email any comments you wish to make to LLRA@long-leys.org.
What Is A Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan is a plan that is prepared by the community that will be subject to an Independent Examination and Referendum. If Long Leys residents vote for the plan at referendum it will be adopted by the City of Lincoln Council as a statutory development plan. This means the City and County Councils will have a legal obligation to use it to along with the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan when making decisions on planning applications in the Long Leys area. A Neighbourhood Plan is primarily about determining land use, but is also able to:
- Agree a vision for the area
- Choose where new homes or commercial premises should be built
- Have a say on what new developments should look like
- Protect important open spaces and community facilities
- Identify non-planning issues which the community feel are important and include them as community aspirations
Neighbourhood Plans have been developed by communities all over the country. Whilst Long Leys would be the first community in Lincoln to do this, in nearby West Lindsey thirty eight communities have developed their own Neighbourhood Plans (view West Lindsey Neighbourhood Plans). Often a plan is drawn up by a parish or town council. In Long Leys, with no parish council, LLRA will apply to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to be designated as a Neighbourhood Forum, allowing us to develop our own Neighbourhood Plan. This plan would also help guide the expenditure of the majority of the Section 106 money held by Lincolnshire County Council for community chosen capital projects in Long Leys (around £70,000).
What Are The Benefits To The Community Of Developing A Neighbourhood Plan?
(from gov.uk Neighbourhood planning guidance)
Neighbourhood planning enables communities to play a much stronger role in shaping the areas in which they live and work and in supporting new development proposals. A neighbourhood plan forms part of the development plan and sits alongside the Local Plan prepared by the local planning authority. Decisions on planning applications will be made using both the Local Plan and the neighbourhood plan, and any other material considerations.
Neighbourhood planning provides the opportunity for communities to set out a positive vision for how they want their community to develop over the next 10, 15, 20 years in ways that meet identified local need and make sense for local people. They can put in place planning policies that will help deliver that vision or grant planning permission for the development they want to see.
To help deliver their vision communities that take a proactive approach by drawing up a neighbourhood plan and secure the consent of local people in a referendum, will benefit from 25% of the revenues from the Community Infrastructure Levy arising from the development that takes place in their area.
Communities without a parish or town council will still benefit from this incentive. If there is no parish or town council the charging authority will retain the Levy receipts but should engage with the communities where development has taken place and agree with them how best to spend the neighbourhood funding. Charging authorities should set out clearly and transparently their approach to engaging with neighbourhoods using their regular communication tools eg website, newsletters, etc. The use of neighbourhood funds should therefore match priorities expresses by local communities, including priorities set out formally in neighbourhood plans.
What Are The Key Stages In Developing A Plan?
- Apply for designation as a Neighbourhood Forum from the LPA
- If designation is granted then:
- Set up a steering group/project team to agree the best approach to creating the plan.
- Apply for grants to pay for planning consultants and consultation events
- Extensive consultation with the community and all stakeholders (public bodies and landowners)
- Developing vision, objectives and policies
- Consider challenges and opportunities (e.g. climate change, economic growth, biodiversity)
- Understanding evidence and gaps in knowledge to inform research needed
- Mobilise Technical Support – from councils, local specialist organisations, universities, consultancies if needed
- Commission further work for sites or issues
- Explore options and formulate policies
- Complete Sustainability Appraisal
- Draft Plan and Examination
- Referendum – Putting the plan to local residents in a referendum
- Adopting and using the plan to shape the area
This looks like a lot of work and could take time and money.
Simply put, it is a lot of work and will take time, although money is available via grants to pay for planning specialists and technical support. We will need a number of public spirited people in the community to put time and effort into particular areas of the plan; whether it is improving facilities, establishing or protecting wildlife corridors or identifying suitable locations for any housing or industrial developments. At the heart of the process is extensive consultation with the whole community, to tap into the ideas and talent we know we have in Long Leys, so we can enthusiastically support any plan that is developed. Generally the process appears to take around 24 months to produce a plan for the following 20 years.
This is a step into the unknown for LLRA. There is always the possibility that we will fail to produce a plan, despite our best efforts. However it seems to be in the best interests of Long Leys to progress this and recent experience has shown that the community can be successful in taking on a big challenge. Shaping our area the way we would like it, rather than just opposing things we don’t like, appears a good approach. The alternative is to just sit and wait and then respond piecemeal to developments planned by others as they arise.
What is the Next Step?
If the community decide LLRA should lead the development of a Neighbourhood Plan then over the summer we would need to apply for designation as a Neighbourhood Forum to City of Lincoln Council. This requires meeting certain legal requirements primarily around approving a new LLRA Constitution and the specific area covered. There is a 6-week consultation period for any application. Designation is not guaranteed, although LLRA are optimistic it could be granted. If Neighbourhood Forum status is granted then, in the Autumn, LLRA would form a project team who would be asked to produce a more detailed project plan for the whole process. At the same time a grant application would be made to pay for technical and planning consultants to support the project team and for the consultation process. Consultation events would most likely start in early 2019.
We have already had initial discussion with City of Lincoln Council about designation and defining a provisional area that the plan would cover (see map below for area outlined in red or view as a PDF).