What is Technical Support?
Technical support includes professional support and advice on technical or process issues. It is available for eligible groups facing more complex issues in developing their neighbourhood plan or neighbourhood development order.
Technical support is awarded as a technical work package and is in addition to the grant. It has no relation to how much grant a group can have. It is delivered free of charge to groups who qualify by meeting the eligibility criteria, e.g. allocating sites for housing.
If you are a group and are experiencing entrenched issues or cannot reach an agreement with a statutory agency (including your local planning authority) and this is preventing you from progressing, we may be able to offer you some time-limited support through our delivery partners.
To find out more please complete our contact us form, setting out your issues. We can then consider this and get back to you.
Eligibility for Technical Support
Are you at least one of the following:
- Allocating sites for housing
- Seeking to bring forward affordable housing for sale in your plan
- Including design codes in your plan
- Planning to use a neighbourhood development order
- An undesignated Forum needing help to get designated (this unlocks the ‘Setting up a Neighbourhood Planning Group (in unparished areas)’ package of support only. To be eligible for the other packages of support your forum will need to be designated)
- 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)
If the answer is yes to any of the above you can apply for technical support.
Don’t forget, you can also apply for grant funding as well as technical support.
What Technical Support packages are available?
To find out more about the technical support packages available, you can download the full technical support package document or read the summaries of the packages below.
For groups preparing a neighbourhood development order to bring forward affordable housing for sale, we also offer bespoke facilitation.
1. Setting up a Neighbourhood Planning Group (in unparished areas only)
Provides practical help to a potential Neighbourhood Planning Forum over an extended period of time to build up its early knowledge, functionality, the broadest possible membership and best structure in order to apply for successful designation as a Qualifying Body (QB) – the group that leads neighbourhood planning in an area – for Neighbourhood Planning purposes.
2. Housing Needs Assessment (HNA)
This assessment provides vital evidence to help you understand the expected demand for housing in your neighbourhood over your plan period.
3. Site Options and Assessment
This technical support package will provide advice to groups who are intending to assess potential sites with a view to allocating land for development in a neighbourhood plan.The report will not usually include both site assessment and site allocation advice (e.g. which sites are finally included in a plan) as the preferred sites for allocation will often need additional investigation and discussion with landowners and the Local Planning Authority as well as consultation with the community before they are allocated through the plan.
4. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Where a neighbourhood planning group has been told by a Local Planning Authority that they need an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) ‘screening opinion’, the group will receive clear advice on whether an EIA is required where a development is promoted through a neighbourhood development order and Community Right to Build.
In most cases, it is unlikely that an EIA will be required.
5. Evidence Base and Policy Development
Aims to help groups with their most ambitious and challenging policy aspirations, and ensure the final policy wording is justified in terms of evidence, is capable of withstanding scrutiny at examination and proves effective when applied in the real world.
6. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
Where the Local Planning Authority have confirmed a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is required for your neighbourhood area, this package will provide evidence to integrate environmental considerations into the plan-making process, through a formal SEA and associated environmental report (that reports the outcomes of the SEA process).
The masterplanning package provides a high level spatial plan for part of your neighbourhood area, setting out how you would like to see development or regeneration come forward.
8. Design including Design Codes
In this package, professional urban designers will work alongside groups, harnessing their ideas and local knowledge, to produce bespoke urban design guides or codes for potential development or regeneration sites.
9. Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA)
This support assists the groups to navigate a key regulatory process by providing the Local Planning Authority with the evidence they need to draw conclusions regarding effects on internationally important wildlife sites. It will also assist the groups with removing any clashes with such sites (e.g. an adverse water quality effect on an international wildlife site from a proposed allocation in a draft neighbourhood plan) before they submit their plan to the Local Planning Authority.
In April 2018, 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 under the Habitats Directive. This means if a likely significant effect is identified at the screening stage, an ‘Appropriate Assessment’ must be undertaken.
A new basic condition came into force on 28 December 2018 to allow neighbourhood plans and orders to undertake a full ‘appropriate assessment’ to demonstrate how impacts will be mitigated.
If you have undertaken HRA screening previously which included mitigation and do not yet have a made neighbourhood plan, you may now need to produce an appropriate assessment, where the mitigation information can be included. We can support you with this process (provided that you are eligible for technical support).
10. Plan Health Check Review
The health check will look into whether your draft plan meets the basic conditions (conditions which must be met before the plan can be put forward to referendum and made) and provide advice on any potential amendments required to ensure the conditions are met, prior to submission of the plan to the Local Planning Authority.
11. Facilitation for designated neighbourhood forums and/or groups in deprived areas
Designated neighbourhood forums and/or groups in deprived areas (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) often face unique challenges in neighbourhood planning. This package is designed to support these groups in a range of ways to make the neighbourhood planning journey as smooth and efficient as possible. This includes (but is not limited to): establishing good governance within the group; support with engaging and managing consultants; developing a diverse and varied group membership; building good financial management (including budget setting); helping stalled groups to move forward; and establishing a road map of tasks that are required to progress towards having a made neighbourhood plan.
This package is available only to designated neighbourhood forums and groups in deprived areas.
If a neighbourhood planning area meets the eligibility criteria, you can apply for the technical packages of support, in addition to grant funding.
All applications for technical support are presented to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to make a decision.
Unlike grant, technical support packages do not need to be fully completed by the end of the financial year (31 March) it was awarded, it can span financial years.