Planning pilots aim to boost engagement in deprived communities

Eleven councils will receive funding to boost engagement and participation in neighbourhood planning, with the aim of encouraging more people in urban and deprived areas to engage in the planning system.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has allocated up to £45,000 to seven areas as part of its Simpler Approach to Neighbourhood Planning pilot for schemes that will make it easier for communities to set out their priorities for development.

The government has also awarded up to £50,000 to 4 councils from the Bidding Fund for Local Planning Authorities in Underrepresented Areas, going towards initiatives that give additional support to residents to produce a Neighbourhood Plan, which must be used by local authorities when determining planning applications.

Despite the benefits of creating a Neighbourhood Plan, currently less than 7% of existing plans are in the most deprived areas and only 5% are in urban areas.

Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said: ‘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.

The schemes being funded by the Simpler Approach to Neighbourhood Planning pilot include a project from Middlesbrough Council to improve engagement in planning from economically deprived areas and a scheme from London Borough of Tower Hamlets to trial simpler ways to get involved in neighbourhood planning which requires less time and resource.

Projects receiving funding from the Bidding Fund for Local Planning Authorities in Underrepresented Areas include recruiting a ‘neighbourhood planning champion’ and producing new online resources to promote neighbourhood plans in Chorley and trialling a new approach to neighbourhood planning that distinguishes between different types of neighbourhoods in Birmingham.

In related news, leaseholders could find it easier and cheaper to buy the freehold of their building under new government proposals which enter the consultation process today.

Photo by Lala Azizli


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