DCLG launches £600,000 plan-making pilots fund

Councils keen to test ways to speed up local plan-making, encourage the delivery of neighbourhood plans or devolve decision-making are being offered the chance to bid for funding of up to £60,000 each.

DCLG: inviting bids for new funding pot (picture: Ian Bottle)
DCLG: inviting bids for new funding pot (picture: Ian Bottle)

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said in a statement last week that a funding pot totalling £600,000 is being made available to authorities and is now open for bids.

It said that grants of up to £60,000 per authority are available for pilots to test projects that would accelerate local plan delivery, better support the creation of neighbourhood plans, or identify ways planning decisions could be delegated to neighbourhood planning groups.

Housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis said in July that if councils did not have a local plan in place by "early 2017" they would face intervention that could see documents written "in consultation with local people". According to the DCLG, 17 per cent of local planning authorities have yet to publish a draft local plan.

An eight-page prospectus on the scheme said grants would be made to "a mixture" of local planning authority areas.

"Where there is a lot of neighbourhood planning activity, the fund could enable authorities to better support communities, to make faster decisions at key stages, and to incorporate neighbourhood planning into the wider planning services," it said.

"In areas of lower activity, the fund could be used to redesign services in a way that incorporates and promotes greater uptake of neighbourhood planning.

"Proposals could cover a range and combination of issues including: governance, resourcing, project planning, evidence-gathering, commissioning research, policy-making, collaborating and engaging with communities, and delegating decisions."

The guidance note added that councils keen to pilot ways of speeding up the production of a draft local plan "may wish to consider" service redesigns or ways they could work more collaboratively with neighbourhood planners or communities in general to get the documents in place.

The fund is open for bids until 18 December. The DCLG said allocations would be made in January, and that work was expected to be complete by the end of March 2016. More details area available here.

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