Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all referendums are now cancelled until May 2021.
We have worked with a number of Neighbourhood Plans that are now stuck in this limbo period. Although it is frustrating not to proceed to the final hurdle of ‘making’ or adopting the plan with the referendum for the next year, updated Government guidance and the Neighbourhood Planning Act is clear that significant weight will be given to a Neighbourhood Plan in decision-making, in so far as the plan is material to the application.
Local Planning Authorities must give significant weight to a Neighbourhood Plan can be in decision-making, so far as the plan is material to the application, once the Authority has issued a Decision Statement following receipt of the examiner’s report.
So, once you have the Decision Statement, which is confirmation from your Local Planning Authority that the Neighbourhood Plan can proceed to referendum, it will carry significant weight. Make sure to publicise the Plan, create a page for it on the Parish or Town Council website and use it when responding to planning applications.
Cam Parish’s Neighbourhood in Stroud District was voted through just last week by Councillors, and the Decision Statement issued which gives the Plan ‘significant weight’. The district councillors were really positive about the Plan, and the Steering Group are delighted to have reached the very near final stage.
The Cam Neighbourhood Plan joins other Plans we have worked on including Ross-on-Wye which have now been issued Decision Statements either just before or during the Pandemic. This is significant because this is the final stage in the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan, before a referendum can be held. The referendum is the last stage in the making of the plan when the community can vote for (or against) the Plan, and give it full weight.