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Home chevron_right Planning and development chevron_right Neighbourhood plans chevron_right About neighbourhood planning

About neighbourhood planning

What is neighbourhood planning?

Neighbourhood planning is a way for communities to have a say in the future of the places where they live and work. It gives communities the opportunity to produce a plan with real legal weight that directs development in your local area. It helps you:

  • choose where you want new homes, shops, and offices to be built
  • have your say on what those new buildings should look like
  • have your say in the decision-making process for new buildings in your neighbourhood

Neighbourhood planning is about building sustainable neighbourhoods - not stopping growth.

The neighbourhood planning process

Locality's step by step guide to creating a Neighbourhood Plan is a good starting point if you're interested in producing a Neighbourhood Plan. Or you can read a summary of some of the key parts of the process below.

Step one - decide who is in charge


Neighbourhood planning is about involving residents in local decisions, so it must be led by a group which represents the community.

If an area has a parish council, they will lead on neighbourhood planning.

If there is no parish council, a community group known as a Neighbourhood Forum will lead on neighbourhood planning. The Neighbourhood Forum must be made up of 21 members. We (the council) must agree with your choice of Neighbourhood Forum - for example, we must be sure that the forum reflects your local community.

You can find out more and apply using the Neighbourhood Forum explanation and application form.

Once the forum has been agreed, we'll be able to provide advisory support to your group. You can find out more about our 'duty of support' in section 4 (Neighbourhood Plans) of the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI).

Step two - define a Neighbourhood Area


The first step is to set out ('designate') a Neighbourhood Area. You'll need to do this before preparing a Neighbourhood Development Plan (usually called a Neighbourhood Plan) or Neighbourhood Development Order.

In most cases, a Neighbourhood Area will follow existing boundaries, like an electoral ward or parish council area. The Neighbourhood Area might be centred around, for example, a housing estate or village, or community assets like a park or local shops.

It is also possible for a Neighbourhood Area to just cover part of a defined area, or to cover neighbouring areas. If the Neighbourhood Area does cover more than one area, you'll need to get agreement from all of the areas included.

Once you've decided on your Neighbourhood Area, you'll need to apply to the council to have it recognised ('designated'). If the parts of your Neighbourhood Area are located in more than one council area, you'll need to apply to both councils.

You can apply using the Neighbourhood Area application form

Step three - prepare a Neighbourhood Plan


You cannot prepare a Neighbourhood Plan until your Neighbourhood Area is approved, because this is the area your Neighbourhood Plan will apply to.

Once the Neighbourhood Area is approved, you can apply for a grant to help with the costs of preparing the Neighbourhood Plan.

The Neighbourhood Plan contains information about the area, including:

  • housing
  • green spaces
  • historic sites
  • community assets like shops, play areas, etc.
  • transport and infrastructure
  • demographic information about the population

It also contains a strong and clear vision for future developments in the Neighbourhood Area. For example, that:

  • new housing developments fit in with the current appearance of the area, for example a similar design, size, etc.
  • existing environmental assets are protected, for example, parks, woodland, waterways, etc.
  • sustainability should be considered in new developments

Every Neighbourhood Plan is different, and these are only examples of what might be included. Your Neighbourhood Plan is likely to be much longer, and specific to the character and needs of your area. However, there are a number of Neighbourhood Plans already in place in Middlesbrough if you want to see an example.

Step four - getting the Neighbourhood Plan approved


Once you've prepared a draft Neighbourhood Plan, you'll need to run a consultation to get people's views.

You should pay attention to these views and change your Neighbourhood Plan if you need to.

Once the Neighbourhood Plan is complete, you'll need to submit it to us.

It will then be examined by an Independent Examiner, who will either:

  • recommend that the plan goes to a referendum
  • request changes before the plan goes to a referendum
  • recommend that the plan is rejected

A referendum is a formal vote on whether or not to accept the Neighbourhood Plan. Only residents who live in the area covered by the Neighbourhood Plan can vote.

If the majority of residents vote to accept the Neighbourhood Plan, we (the council) must also vote on whether or not to accept it. This is done at a full council meeting.

If the majority of councillors are in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan, it will be approved. This is called being 'adopted' or 'made'. We will then use the Neighbourhood Plan to help us make decisions on future planning applications in your area.


If you have any questions about neighbourhood planning, or you're interested in producing a Neighbourhood Plan for your local area, please contact us:

Phone: 01642 729062

Email: planningpolicy@middlesbrough.gov.uk

You can also find out more via the Planning Portal or the Neighbourhood Planning website.