A long-awaited report on The Impacts of Neighbourhood Planning by the University of Reading has just been published. Conducted between September 2019 and March 2020, this extensive research project surveyed councils, consultants, the development industry, as well as both communities who have completed a neighbourhood plan and those who have struggled to complete their Plan.
Its findings are organised by six research objectives:
- development impacts and housing supply
- other development impacts (including quality of development)
- decision-making and investment
- community attitudes and engagement
- the influence of geography
- success factors and common barriers.
The authors state that the "findings suggest that neighbourhood planning is helping to identify sites and nuance the development that goes there with benefits in quality terms – although more could be done to harness the innovative potentials of so many volunteer hours focussing in on planning at that scale. Design guides and policies appear to be a key area of emerging value added when it comes to decision-making."
A list of 13 suggested areas for further work are set out in the final report and they are aimed at maximising the benefits of neighbourhood planning.
Note: Neighbourhood Planning (NP), introduced by the Localism Act of 2011, is the right for communities to decide the future of the places where they live and work. The authors of the above report have published a book, "Neighbourhood Planning in Practice", which "examines the experience of neighbourhood planners, analysing what communities have achieved, how they have done so and what went well or badly. Comparing NP with other forms of community planning and highlighting the main lessons learned so far, it acts as a navigation tool for people already involved in neighbourhood planning, as well as those contemplating participation."