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Advice, technical and strategic, is provided by barristers who have particular experience in all aspects of neighbourhood planning. Early involvement in the process can optimise the assistance that we can provide. This is available for all those involved in or affected by the preparation and promotion of neighbourhood plans, neighbourhood development orders and community right to build orders: the qualifying body (parish council, neighbourhood forum, community organisation), local planning authority, land owner and developers. This advice can be given at all stages including in relation to:

  • Designation of a neighbourhood area and forum;
  • Preparation of the plan – both in terms of the evidence base required and the formulation of policies and proposals;
  • Publicity;
  • The Examination, both in relation to supporting the Plan and seeking changes to it on behalf of landowners/developers;
  • The Referendum.

Assistance is given to ensure that the basic conditions are met and the requirements of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 are complied with. This includes those relating to Strategic Environmental Assessment and the Habitats Directive where relevant, both of which require careful consideration. Health Checks can be undertaken by us before submission of a Plan or Order for independent examination to minimise the risk of these being found to be defective. By way of an example Members of Chambers appeared at the examination of the revised Farnham Neighbourhood Plan.

Neighbourhood plans can also have significant implications for the development potential of land and detailed advice on how to optimise the chances of achieving this is provided to landowners/developers. This relates to both responding to the consultation by and negotiating with the qualifying body and how best to make representations at the Examination stage, as well as advising on and appearing in challenges in the High Court to Plans and Orders. We can advise in relation to the prospects of success in such proceedings and the likely cost implications, including the likelihood of obtaining a protective costs order and the implications of that.

As a neighbourhood plan is part of the statutory development plan, the interpretation and application of its provisions can be critical in the determination of planning applications. We advise on these issues and appear, where appropriate, at appeal hearings and inquiries to give specialist assistance. A recent example in which Members of Chambers were involved is the appeal at Tuffs Road, Suffolk (App Ref: APP/W3520/W/18/3215534), an inquiry relating to an application for a 126-home development, which turned on the Neighbourhood Plan.

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