I have just received this letter (below) – it looks as if the earliest we can now have a referendum on the INP will be 6th May 2021 – such a shame after all the hard work that has been done, but then it is out of our hands.
There are some important changes to neighbourhood planning that we want to bring to your attention from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG):
- Regulations linked to the Coronavirus Act 2020 mean that no elections or referendums can take place until 6 May 2021. This includes neighbourhood planning referendums. These provisions will be kept under review and may be amended or revoked in response to changing circumstances.
MHCLG understands this will be frustrating for communities that have dedicated significant time and effort to the neighbourhood planning process and naturally want their plans to come into force as soon as possible. With this in mind, they have updated current planning guidance to set out that neighbourhood plans awaiting referendums can be given significant weight in decision-making.MHCLG recognises there will be delays in progressing neighbourhood plans due to the social distancing measures currently in place across the UK. The updated planning guidance also provides further advice on the implications for conducting publicity and consultation, and examinations.
- Grants and technical support will continue to be available to support communities during the next financial year, and Locality’s advice service continues to operate as normal.
- As set out in the recently published Chief Planner’s newsletter, MHCLG will allow local authorities to make claims for new burdens grants at an earlier point in the neighbourhood planning process.
There are also some COVID-19 FAQ notes for help with your Neighbourhood Plan during this time.
How to plan through COVID-19
To help you understand what you can do to help progress your neighbourhood plan during this time we’ve put together some tips for you.
Some plan making activities will be restricted; however, other plan making activities can continue with a different approach.
Thank you and stay safe.
Neighbourhood Planning Programme Manager
33 Corsham Street