Planning Aid England Research

In November 2018, Planning Aid England North West published the summary findings of their latest survey on Development Plan updates in the region, including Neighbourhood Plans and the level of support each Local Authority is providing.

In total, 182 Neighbourhood Plans were recorded as formally started (since 2012), meaning they have been designated in some form (up from 168 in the 2017 survey).

A total of 87 of the plans (48%) are within the Cheshire sub-region (including 4 in Warrington). Just 15 plans are in the Liverpool City Region, 16 in Greater Manchester, 29 in Cumbria and 35 in Lancashire.

Only 24 of the plans involve Forums although 4 of these only have an Area designation, most from several years ago. Nearly all (apart from 2) of the Forums are in either the Liverpool City Region or Greater Manchester. There are only 5 designated business forums, 2 each in Liverpool and Trafford, 1 in Lancashire. 3 Forums have been re-designated (over 5 years old).

Just over a quarter (27%, 49 in number) of the plans started have reached their final stage of being made. 35 of the made plans are in the two Cheshire unitary authority areas representing 42% of the plans started there. Elsewhere the proportions of made plans out of all those started range from 6% (just 1 plan) in Greater Manchester to 21% in Cumbria.

Nearly half (46%, 83 in number) of the designated Areas fall within the 50 to 75 per cent quartile of least deprived locations in England and here some 28% of the plans have been made. Between 30 and 38 NP Areas contain locations in the three other quartiles but the highest rate of plans being made (40%) are in the very least deprived quartile.

Local Planning Authority support measures offered to Neighbourhood Plan groups were assessed against 10 criteria as evidenced from their website information.

No one Authority offers all 10 measures, but 5 Councils (including the two Cheshire unitary Councils, but also one authority with no NPs) offer 7 or more of the types of support, whilst 3 Authorities publish no NP support information at all on their website, 2 of these have no plans.

The most frequent support score is 5 out of 10 achieved by nearly one third of Authorities. The mean average is 4.6, this compares to 4.1 last year.

Numerous plans have not reached a regulatory stage beyond designation, a total of 44 plans dating from 2015 or earlier. There are 23 plans also still at this stage dating from 2016, and the same number from 2017, whereas the number for 2018 is just 12, indicative of the new plan preparation rate tailing off.