The government has announced it will “almost double” funding given to neighbourhood planning groups in urban and deprived communities, with the aim of helping them plan their local area.
The funding to each of these neighbourhood planning groups will increase to £18,000, the government has said, and as part of the plans, the groups will be able to access their area’s housing needs or get the ability to develop masterplans for free.
Announcing the extra funding, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “The government is overhauling the country’s outdated planning system to deliver the high-quality sustainable homes the country needs.
“Under the new system local communities will be in the driving seat deciding what is built and where.
“I want to ensure all communities have a strong voice in this process, which is why I am doubling the funding available in some of the most deprived parts of the country to help residents in these areas shape the future of their neighbourhoods.”
Cllr Sue Baxter, chair of the National Association of Local Councils, welcomed the announcement, saying: “England’s local (parish & town) councils are at the forefront of neighbourhood planning and make up the vast majority of the 2,600 places using this important tool in the planning system to shape development and housing in their areas.
“This additional grant funding for disadvantaged communities is particularly welcome and will provide a vital extra boost to help hundreds of areas prepare a plan.
“NALC would encourage local councils in those areas to use this additional funding to get started on neighbourhood planning to help build back better communities.
“Communities with an adopted neighbourhood plan in unparished areas are able to fast track the process to set up a local council so they can also benefit from local leadership and support the wider benefits and ambitions of neighbourhood planning.”
Tony Burton, convener of Neighbourhood Planners London, also welcomed the announcements.
He said: “With the planning system undergoing major reform it has never been more important that communities take advantage of their right to plan their neighbourhood.
“We welcome the new and additional support to neighbourhood forums across London and other urban areas.
Planning for the future
“This will help put local communities on the front foot in planning the future of their areas.”
The neighbourhood planning announcement follows the release of the Planning for the Future white paper, which the government unveiled last week.
The proposals were ill-received by many in the housing sector, especially the potential axing of Section 106 agreements.
Image: Barbican Centre, London