Neighbourhood Watch: Council blocks forum designation on diversity grounds

News that a Berkshire council has rejected a community group's application to be designated as a neighbourhood planning forum over representation concerns, including worries about a "lack of diversity" in terms of age and gender, features in the latest Neighbourhood Watch update.

Maidenhead, Berkshire
Maidenhead, Berkshire

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) wrote to the chair of Maidenhead Neighbourhood Forum to reject its application for official designation and the right to prepare a neighbourhood plan. In the letter, James Carpenter, interim head of planning at the council, said the application failed a test under the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) that forums should contain at least 21 members living in the area concerned.

Carpenter also voiced concerns at the narrow demographic profile of the forum. He said: "The submission document identifies the lack of diversity, stating ‘Most members are aged 60+ and male’." More on this story here.

In other neighbourhood planning news, a developer's legal bid to overturn a Hampshire council's decision to allow a neighbourhood plan to proceed to referendum on the basis that one of its policies conflicts with an emerging local plan policy has been dismissed by the High Court. The Hook Neighbourhood Plan (HNP) was put together by the local parish council and approved in modified form by an examiner. In August 2019, Hart District Council allowed the plan to proceed to a referendum, which it successfully passed in October.

The focus of Wilbur Developments Ltd's challenge against the decision to allow the neighbourhood plan to proceed was a policy in the plan which states that developments should neither lead to the physical or visual coalescence of Hook and the nearby village of Newnham, nor damage their separate identity. A High Court judge dismissed the challenge, concluding that: "The examiner's report in this case provided a sufficient basis upon which the council could properly conclude that the plan met the basic conditions and other statutory criteria, and that his recommendation ought to be accepted." More on this story here.



Hampshire: The Hythe and Dibden neighbourhood development plan was made part of New Forest District Council's and New Forest National Park Authority's local development framework on 18 December 2019.

Worcestershire: The Lickey & Blackwell and Cofton Hackett neighbourhood development plan was made part of Bromsgrove District Council's local development framework on 22 January 2020.


Hampshire: The examiner's report on the New Milton neighbourhood development plan was published on 19 December 2019.

Dorset: The Shaftesbury neighbourhood development plan has been submitted to Dorset Council for examination.


Berkshire: The Arborfield and Barkham neighbourhood development plan was approved at a referendum on 6 February 2020.

Buckinghamshire: The Wendover neighbourhood development plan was approved at a referendum on 30 January 2020.

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