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Neighbourhood Planning – What’s It All About?

The Localism Act which came into force in April 2012 has introduced exciting new powers for communities in the form of Neighbourhood Planning. Communities have always been consulted in the planning process whether it be during the creation of planning policies or the assessment of planning applications (that are assessed against these policies). However, many groups have felt that this engagement is not meaningful giving them only a minor role in shaping where they live and work.

Communities now have the right to produce a Neighbourhood Plan, setting out policies on the development and use of land in a parish or neighbourhood area. The Neighbourhood Plan will show how the level of growth identified in the Core Strategy/Local Plan is to be met or exceeded. Developing a Neighbourhood Plan can help communities to play a greater role in determining the future of their area. However it has to be remembered that it is not a tool to stop development where it is already included in the Core Strategy/Local Plan; it gives communities the opportunity to shape what that planned growth will look like and where additional growth might go.

How will it Work?

The Neighbourhood Plan will be developed by you – the residents of Otley – you may live here, work here, go to school here, shop here or have social connections to the town. You know your community best and can help in identifying sites in or around the area which would be suitable for housing, business or other forms of community-related development which will shape the long term future for the town. It will bring the community together to share ideas and build consensus about needs and priorities for the area. It can also help to create lasting partnerships to take forward actions that may arise from the process.

The Plan is important for everyone because, if a vote at a referendum is successful, it will be a legal document and decisions on planning applications will be required to be made in accordance with your Neighbourhood Plan.

How can I get Involved?

To ensure that the Plan is led by the community, a number of ‘Neighbourhood Representatives’ are needed to work together with small sections of the local community or work with groups such as businesses, services, clubs, and societies, or young people. The Neighbourhood Representatives will be supported throughout this process and will work alongside others as a team.

If you are interested in finding out how you could become involved with other local people to help develop the Neighbourhood Plan then please see the page on the Otley Town Council website or contact a member of the Town Council.

There are opportunities now, and over the coming months for you to engage and contribute to the Plan so please get involved as this is an important opportunity for everyone connected with Otley to help shape your community.