Neighbourhood Watch: Guidance updated in light of coronavirus pandemic

News of changes to national guidance on neighbourhood planning in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the postponement of all plan referendums in the next year, features in this week's Neighbourhood Watch round-up.

The MHCLG offices in London
The MHCLG offices in London

Earlier this month, national Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) on neighbourhood planning was updated to add the new paragraph 107.

Paragraph 107 says that all neighbourhood plan referendums due to take place between 16 March 2020 and 5 May 2021 would be postponed until after that period.

But, it adds, where local authorities have issued a decision statement outlining their intention to hold a neighbourhood plan referendum, “that plan can be given significant weight in decision-making, so far as the plan is material to the application”.

In contrast, paragraph 007 of this section of the PPG states that where the local planning authority "publishes notice of a referendum, the emerging neighbourhood plan should be given more weight, while also taking account of the extent of unresolved objections to the plan and its degree of consistency with [the National Planning Policy Framework].

The new paragraph "supersedes any relevant aspects of current guidance on neighbourhood planning", it adds, "until further notice", including paragraph 007.

The updated guidance also sets out changes around oral representations during plan examinations and public consultation. More details on these changes can be found here.



Surrey: The Farnham neighbourhood development plan was made part of Waverley Borough Council's local development framework on 3 April.

Suffolk: The Fressingfield neighbourhood development plan was made part of Mid Suffolk District Council's local development framework on 27 March 2020.


Devon: The examiner's report on the Otterton neighbourhood plan was issued to East Devon District Council on 8 April. The examiner found that the plan could proceed to a referendum.

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