Technical questions about neighbourhood plans

I’d like a hard copy of the Neighbourhood Planning Roadmap

Please email with the number of copies you would like, along with your name and postal address.

How can I find out more about Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA)?

Strategic Environmental Assessment

You can find out more about Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) by reading the Understand if your plan requires a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) guide.

Read the guide: Understand if your plan requires a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) 

Habitats Regulations Assessment screening requirements

A neighbourhood plan may need to undergo environmental ‘screening’ for the Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) to determine whether it is likely to have a significant effect on a European designated site under the Habitats Directive. At the ‘screening’ stage it has been common to list the measures that were intended to avoid or mitigate any harmful effects of a neighbourhood plan.

In April 2018, in the case People Over Wind & Sweetman v Coillte Teoranta (“People over Wind”), the Court of Justice of the European Union clarified that it is not appropriate to take account of mitigation measures when screening plans and projects for their effects on European protected habitats under the Habitats Directive. In practice this means if a likely significant effect is identified at the screening stage of a habitats assessment, an ‘Appropriate Assessment’ must be undertaken.

A new basic condition came into force on 28 December 2018 to allow neighbourhood plans and orders in areas where there could be a likely significant effect on a protected habitat to undertake a full ‘appropriate assessment’ to demonstrate how impacts will be mitigated, in the same way as would happen for a Local Plan.

If your plan requires an appropriate assessment as part of its HRA, you should also consider whether it requires an SEA.


How can I find out more about local green space designations and/or the green belt

Local green space

You can find out more about green spaces and green space designation by reading the Making local green space designations in your neighbourhood plan toolkit.

Read the Understanding Local Green Spaces toolkit

Green belt

The NPPF allows neighbourhood plans to amend the boundaries of green belts, where strategic policies (either in the local plan or a spatial development strategy) have established the need for changes to the green belt.

How do I work out my area’s housing need and how do I assess and allocate sites?

Housing needs

You can find out more about housing and Housing Needs Assessment by reading the How to undertake a Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) guide.

Read the How to undertake a Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) guide.

Sites assessment and allocation

You can find out more about site assessment and allocation by reading the How to assess and allocate sites for development guide.

Read the How to assess and allocate sites for development guide

What are design codes?

Design codes are a set of illustrated design requirements that provide specific, detailed parameters for the physical development of a site or area. The graphic and written components of the code should be proportionate and build upon a design vision, such as a masterplan or other design and development framework for a site or area.

Design codes can be applied to all development types including residential, commercial, mixed use, open space, landscape or public realm requirements. They can be adopted as a supplementary planning document, or appended to a neighbourhood plan, community right to build order or neighbourhood development order.

You can find more information on design codes within the Planning Practice Guidance at

Questions about the neighbourhood planning process

How do I create a neighbourhood plan and where do I find the regulations?

You can find out more about how to create a neighbourhood plan by reading How to create a Neighbourhood Plan: Your step by step roadmap guide.

Read How to create a Neighbourhood Plan: Your step by step roadmap guide

You can find out more about neighbourhood planning regulations on

Go to the neighbourhood planning legislation

I want to know more about how to establish a neighbourhood forum

You can find out how to establish a neighbourhood forum in the How to establish a neighbourhood planning forum guide.

Read the How to establish a neighbourhood planning forum guide.

I want to know more about neighbourhood area designation

You can find out more about neighbourhood area designation in Part C – ‘Neighbourhood designation area’ of the How to create a Neighbourhood Plan: Your step by step roadmap guide.

Read the How to create a Neighbourhood Plan: Your step by step roadmap guide.

I want to know more about community infrastructure levy (CIL).

What is the community infrastructure levy (CIL)?

Community infrastructure levy (CIL) is a charge which landowners must pay on new development. It applies to developments above a certain size (over 100 square metres) and is collected in order to pay for new infrastructure. The amount charged differs depending on what the CIL rate is. For example, places with higher land values tend to have higher CIL rates. The centre of town for instance.

What’s the difference between CIL and Section 106?

Section 106 is another type of planning obligation similar to CIL. But whilst Section 106 is only collected on certain types of developments, CIL is collected on all developments above 100 square metres within a CIL collecting area. Whilst the amount paid in a Section 106 agreement is negotiated, CIL rates are set and cannot be negotiated. Not all local authorities must set CIL rates, but all are allowed to.

What is the neighbourhood portion of CIL?

15% of CIL collected is passed directly to town and parish councils for them to decide how it will be spent. The is called the neighbourhood portion. In areas that are unparished, instead of being passed to the town or parish council, the local authority must consult residents and businesses about how they would like the neighbourhood portion to be spent. But the local authority retains and spends the money.

Why is the neighbourhood portion of CIL important for neighbourhood planners?

In areas with made neighbourhood plans, the neighbourhood portion of CIL increases to 25%. This is passed to the town or parish council, or in unparished areas, again residents and businesses are consulted.

View the relationship between the levy and neighbourhood plans in England – .PDF

We are a neighbourhood forum (unparished) and are keen to be involved in discussions about how neighbourhood CIL will be spent

Different local authorities will have different approaches to consulting the community on how neighbourhood CIL is spent. Ask your local authority about how and when they will consult on CIL. You may have neighbourhood plan policies directly related to new infrastructure so it will be important you discuss these with your local authority.

Can a neighbourhood forum become parished?

Whilst it is possible for a new civil parish to be created, we understand that so far none have been formed for the express purpose of managing a neighbourhood CIL budget.

You can find out more about CIL and how it relates to you neighbourhood by going to the Understanding Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) toolkit.

Read the Understanding Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) toolkit

I have a ‘made’ neighbourhood plan, what’s next?

Producing a neighbourhood plan is just the beginning. It is important to make sure your made neighbourhood plan is used and doesn’t end up sitting on a shelf gathering dust.

It is essential to monitor how your plan is doing in the real world. Aspects of monitoring can include:

  • Monitoring planning applications: The local authority will have to consider the neighbourhood plan anyway in their decision making, but being proactive and submitting responses to consultations on applications with specific reference to your plan policies can help ensure a strong influence.
  • Monitoring LPA decisions on planning applications: The neighbourhood plan is one of a number of considerations for planning officers. Monitoring decisions on applications in relation to your neighbourhood plan can allow you to establish whether policies in your plan are doing what they set out to achieve (for example, are planning officers applying your policy in the way you had originally intended?). If not, you may want to considering revising your made neighbourhood plan.
  • Monitoring the local and national planning policy context: National and local policy changes. It is important to keep up to date on these changes as they may have implications on your neighbourhood plan, with policies becoming out of date.

You may wish to set up a monitoring group after the plan has been made.

If you had community projects or aspirations in your plan, you may also want to set up an implementation group that focuses solely on bringing forward these schemes.

I have a ‘made’ plan and I wish to modify/review it

Minor updates that would not materially affect policies may be made by the local planning authority, with consent from the qualifying body. For example, correcting errors in a plan.

Material modifications which do not change the nature of the plan would require examination but not a referendum. For example, the addition of a design code that builds on a pre-existing design policy.

Material modifications which do change the nature of the plan would require examination and a referendum. For example, if your updated plan seeks to allocate significant new sites for development.

If you are updating a neighbourhood plan that has already been ‘made’ by the local planning authority, then any grant support or Technical Support received in making your previous plan is not taken in to account, with your full allowances ‘reset’.

Read the Grant Funding & Technical Support Guidance Notes

What is affordable housing for sale?

We use the phrase ‘Affordable housing for sale’ to describe a range of housing products which are set out in Annex 2 (b-d) of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2018. In summary, they include:

  • ‘Discounted market sales housing’: the NPPF defines this as “housing that is that sold at a discount of at least 20% below local market value. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices. Provisions should be in place to ensure housing remains at a discount for future eligible households”;
  • ‘Other affordable routes to home ownership’: housing for those who cannot afford it through the market. This includes:
    • shared ownership: a part rent, part buy model that enables people to purchase a share of a new build property and pay rent on the rest;
    • rent to buy: homes let at intermediate rent (at or below 80% of the market rate) for a certain period of time (and during that time the tenant will have the option to buy). At the end of that time period, the tenant will have the option to either buy the property fully or partially through shared ownership; and
    • other low-cost homes for sale at a price to at least 20% below market value.

The Government has also brought forward a new affordable housing for sale product, First Homes. First Homes are sold with a minimum discount of 30% off the market price.

Find out more about First Homes.

You can find more information on these affordable housing products in Annex 2 of the NPPF.

My neighbourhood forum designation has expired or is about to expire, what should I do?

If you have been designated as a neighbourhood forum, your designation will expire after 5 years. Your neighbourhood area designation does not expire.

If your forum designation expires and you have not yet made your neighbourhood plan, you will need to re-designate to continue making your plan to take it through the statutory stages (e.g. Regulation 14 consultation, submission to the local planning authority etc.).

Neighbourhood forum designations will typically expire after your plan has been made. In this case you may want to re-designate. Often neighbourhood planning groups monitor the progress of their made neighbourhood plans, including the degree to which the aims and objectives are being realised and the extent to which relevant policies are being considered by the local planning authority when deciding on planning applications.

Technically anyone can keep a check on the plan and monitor planning applications. You do not need to be a designated neighbourhood forum to do this.

However, you may still wish to re-designate. If as part of your monitoring you realise certain policies are not having the desired effect, you may decide to update your made neighbourhood plan and have it remade. In this case, only a designated forum would be able to do this.

The process for re-designation is the same as the initial designation and you will have to submit a forum designation application to your local planning authority. As five years is a long time and the make up of your area may have changed considerably (residents and employers leaving, and new ones coming in etc.), it is important that you invite new members to join the forum, so that the forum membership stays truly reflective of the neighbourhood area.

Can I talk to someone that has been through the neighbourhood planning journey themselves?

Yes, you should get in touch with one of our neighbourhood planning champions.

Champions will be able to: share their own neighbourhood planning journey experiences; provide tips based on lessons learnt from their own experience; sign-post you to helpful resources.

Our champions are volunteers and for any technical enquiries please get in touch with the Locality team via the advice service.

You can get in touch with a champion here.

Are there ways to progress my neighbourhood plan without meeting face to face?

Yes, you can use digital tools to hold meetings and carry out engagement activities.

During the Covid-19 restrictions, many neighbourhood planning groups explored new ways of working to allow them to progress their plans without meeting face to face.

We have compiled a resource document that includes some of the tools and platforms that might be useful if you are planning to deliver virtual or online activities.

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Questions about applying for support

What support am I eligible for and how can I apply?

What kind of support can you apply for?

There are two main types of support that groups can apply for provided you meet the eligibility criteria:

1. Grant funding
2. Technical Support

You can apply for both grant funding, and Technical Support at the same time provided that you meet the criteria.

Apply for support 

Find out if you’re eligible for support

View Basic Grant funding eligibility

View Additional Grant funding eligibility

View Technical Support eligibility

You can find out more about grant funding and Technical Support eligibility by reading the Neighbourhood Planning Guidance Notes.

How to apply for support

To apply for grant funding and/or Technical Support, you must first complete an expression of interest (EoI).

Once you have completed and submitted your EoI you will be automatically directed to the application form which you can begin completing immediately or save and resume at a later stage.

Apply for support

How do I apply for the Additional Grant?

It is exactly the same process as applying for Basic Grant or Technical Support. You complete an EoI form which will automatically direct you to the application form which you can begin completing immediately or save and resume at a later stage.

We use the same form for all elements of the programme. However, when you apply for a further grant any amount over the £10,000 Basic Grant will automatically be considered as the Additional Grant.

You can only apply for a maximum of £10,000 per application, so presumably, this will be your second or third application. We will see what you have previously been awarded and whether there was any underspend.

Please note this is only for groups that meet the additional criteria. See below:

  • Allocating sites for housing
  • Including design codes in your plan
  • A designated business neighbourhood plan
  • A cluster of three or more parishes writing a single plan
  • A Neighbourhood Area with a population of over 25,000
  • A designated neighbourhood forum
  • A group based in an area which has a high level of deprivation (where 30% or more of the neighbourhood area or population is in the 20% most deprived areas in England according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation).

Do I meet the deprivation criteria for Additional Grant and Technical Support?

To meet this criteria, you must be in an area where 30% or more of the neighbourhood area or population is in the 20% most deprived areas in England according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation.

To help you establish whether you meet this criteria, please read the Guidance notes. This sets out where to find the index and how to determine your deprivation score.

What support am I eligible for if I am updating a ‘made’ neighbourhood plan?

If you are updating a neighbourhood plan that has been ‘made’ by the local planning authority, then you are eligible to apply for the programme’s allowances again.

For grant, this means you can access a refreshed Basic Grant allowance of £10,000 as well as the Additional Grant of £8,000, if you meet the criteria for the additional funding.

If you are eligible for Technical Support, you can apply for the range of packages available.

For further details around the programme’s eligibility criteria and the support on offer, please read our Grant and Technical Support guidance notes.

How long will it take for my application to be assessed?

If you are applying for grant funding, we will assess your grant within 15 working days of receiving all the information we need to assess the application. An assessor may be in touch if there are any queries.

If you are also applying for Technical Support, you will be contacted by phone or email to arrange a diagnostic session to assess your support needs. All applications for Technical Support are presented to DLUHC to make a decision.

You can find more information by reading the Neighbourhood Planning Guidance Notes.

I am having problems with my application

I cannot submit my application in the 15 day timeframe. What should I do?

Unfortunately, after 15 days you will be unable to access your application form as the link will expire. This is an automated process that we are unable to override.

You will need to complete a new EoI which will automatically direct you to a new application form.

It is advisable to complete the blank application template prior to submitting your EoI. This is to help you prepare answers to your questions in advance of submitting your actual application form. Preparing your answers in the blank application template also prevents loss of data if you cannot submit your application within 15 days.

How do I resume my application form?

To access an existing application form you will need to log in using the details that you provided when you saved.

When you saved you will have been sent an email with a link to the log in page. Here you will be able to enter your email address and password to access your saved form.

You need to save your form every time prior to closing it. When doing this, please use the same email address that you provided in your EoI and make a note of the details you save with.

Can more than one person work on the application form and if so and what details should they use?

Yes, multiple people can work on the same application form (however not at the same time). To do this they will need to log in with the same details that you provided when you saved, via the link to the log in page that was sent to you by email. They will also need to save their work prior to closing the form, using the same details you provided.

If multiple people will be working on the same application form please ensure you choose a password you are happy to share with others.

I have forgotten my password.

You are able to reset your password if you have forgotten it. To do this you will need to access the log in page (via the email that was sent to you when you saved your application form) and select ‘Forgot your Password?’ and enter your email address.

You will then be sent a link to update your password. You can choose a new password and log in with your new details.

What happens if my grant application has been successful?

Once your grant application has been approved by Locality, Groundwork UK will become the day to day contact for your grant. They are the grant administrators for the programme and are responsible for managing the grants including making grant payments and monitoring.

They will email you to confirm the grant approval, then follow up with a second email with the detailed grant offer letter and full terms and conditions.  You will also receive a separate email from their Programme Management System ‘Blackbaud Grantmaking’ inviting you to access the portal to complete their due diligence process. They will do this within 10 working days of the grant being approved by Locality.

Once your grant has been awarded, all queries about the use of grant, any changes to what you wish to use the grant for, or your timeline for completing the work, should be referred to Groundwork UK. You can contact them at

How do I find a planning consultant to help us?

We recommend that you speak to neighbouring groups who are making a plan to see who they are working with, and you can also contact your local planning authority.

You could also use the RTPI consultant directory. By entering your postcode you will find a chartered planner in the nearby area.

Please read out toolkit on how to commission consultants to help you further:

How to commission consultants to work on your neighbourhood plan.

How do I complete my end of grant monitoring?

All successful applicants will be required to provide an end of grant report to Groundwork UK at the end of the grant period. The report will request details of all grant expenditure against the original approved budget and the progress made.

The report will be issued through Groundwork UK’s portal, the same platform used to accept the grant offer. You will receive an email to notify you when the report is ready for completion.  All invoices/receipts over £1000 will need to be uploaded as evidence and any unspent funds will need to be returned to Groundwork UK.

If you have completed all the grant expenditure before the end of the grant period, you can report earlier. To request for your report to be issued early, or for any other queries related to the reporting process, please contact Groundwork UK on

We are a forum/prospective forum and we are unincorporated, how to we find an accountable body to hold the grant for us?

We do not encourage forums to incorporate just to hold the grant as this will normally incur legal and financial costs such as audit fees.

You can find more information by reading the accountable body guidance. If you have any further questions then please contact Groundwork at

*a neighbourhood forum that does not have a separate legal status

Accountable Body Guidance (.docx)

I have no grant money left, are there other ways to raise finances?

If you have no grant money remaining you may want to consider other options available to raise finances to help you complete your plan. You can find out more on different options on My Community. This is a general list and not all will be appropriate for neighbourhood planning purposes.

Please note that for other grant programmes you may need to meet specific requirements and that funding may not be available for neighbourhood planning purposes.

Can’t find the answer to your neighbourhood planning question?

If your question hasn’t been answered or if it is more technical in nature, you can submit your question to us and a Locality Neighbourhood Planning expert will respond to your query within two working days.

More complex queries may take longer to answer and, where this is the case, we will let you know.


Get in touch

Have a wider planning enquiry not related to neighbourhood planning?

Planning Aid England offer free, independent, and professional advice on planning issues and they might be able to help you.

Planning Aid England can help you understand, for example; whether you need planning permission for your house extension, the planning application process, including how to respond to applications near you, and how to appeal a decision on a planning application.

You can find a range of helpful resources at the Planning Aid England website.