The first communities to test radical new rights to give local people much greater ability to shape development in their area have been announced today by Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark.
Seventeen communities - a mix of cities, urban and rural areas - will spearhead a trial of neighbourhood planning, a powerful new right being introduced in the Localism Bill.
Neighbourhood planning is a key reform designed to create the conditions for communities to welcome growth by giving local people a real voice in deciding the look and feel of development in their area; from determining the locations of shops, offices and schools to setting standards of design for new housing.
Local people will for the first time be able to decide the types of development given automatic planning permission through a Neighbourhood Development Order. If approved by a local referendum, a council will need to adopt a neighbourhood plan providing it is line with wider ambitions for growth in their area.
Neighbourhood planning complements reforms announced in the Budget to ensure the planning system does everything possible to support economic growth and sustainable development. These measures include allowing communities to share directly in the benefits of growth through the New Homes Bonus.
Greg Clark said:
"Planning has increasingly become one of the most contentious issues in Britain, with communities becoming pitted against development. Often the reason is that local people feel alienated from the planning process, with no influence over changes to their area.
"Neighbourhood planning will help to reverse that position by giving communities the ability to shape development in their area rather than being dictated to.
"Localism and growth will go hand in hand. By giving local people a greater say together with new incentives to share in the benefits of growth, our reforms will help to create the conditions where communities begin to welcome development rather than resist it at all costs."
The 17 neighbourhood planning front-runners will be led by Local Authorities who will work with community groups and parish councils to prepare draft plans and Neighbourhood Development Orders.
Each of the 17 areas will receive £20,000 towards developing their plan from a £1m fund set up to help communities eager to trial neighbourhood planning
A further 33 grants of £20,000 will also be awarded from the fund to projects that applied to be front runners. This is to help them carry forward their plans on their own.