Neighbourhood planning

Statement regarding Neighbourhood Planning and Coronavirus Pandemic (Covid-19)

The Government’s latest guidance on Covid-19 is to stay alert and safe and keep practicing social distancing. With the easing of the lockdown on 04 July 2020 our advice remains that town and parish councils preparing neighbourhood plans should not undertake any physical public consultation as face to face engagement is not mandatory. Instead, town parish councils should use online and more targeted methods to reach our residents:

  • Email
  • Online surveys
  • Telephone or letters for those without access to the internet

In addition, town/parish councils wanting to carry out statutory Pre Submission Consultation and Publicity (Regulation 14) are advised to follow the neighbourhood planning consultation and publicity note on safe consulting which has been prepared so that the full regulatory requirements of consultation and publicity can be safely met having regard to the adopted Statements of Community Involvement.

Guidelines for potential consultation at Regulations 9 and 16 and other stages for publicising decisions made by the Council during the production of a neighbourhood plan are also set out in the note.

Statements of community involvement

The various statements of community involvement (SCI) across Buckinghamshire will be replaced by a new single SCI. The new SCI will be in line with the Government’s latest planning practice guidance and will cover any continuing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the meantime, the new supplementary note sets out what consultation and publicity methods are considered safe and possible for Publicising a Plan Proposal or a Modification Proposal (Regulation 16) in a manner that is likely to bring it to the attention of people who live, work or carry on business in the neighbourhood area. Notwithstanding this advice, should you wish to continue to prepare your neighbourhood plan, please contact the Planning Policy team in your area for detailed discussions.

Neighbourhood plan referendums

Government advice states no neighbourhood plan referendums can take place until 6 May 2021. This will be kept under review by the Government and may change based on how the pandemic continues.

We will continue to update town and parish councils with any updates.

For more information on the changes please visit GOV.UK: Neighbourhood planning.

Neighbourhood planning gives communities the power to:
  • make a neighbourhood development plan – sets out where new homes and offices should be built and how they should look
  • make a neighbourhood development order – gives the community the ability to grant planning permission
  • make a Community Right to Build order – gives permission for small-scale, site-specific developments by a community group


The process

  1. Buckinghamshire Council consults on the designation of Neighbourhood Areas
  2. The town or parish council consults on the pre-submission stage of their own neighbourhood plan
  3. Buckinghamshire Council holds a public consultation on the plan, and the responses are sent to an independent examiner
  4. If the plan passes independent examination, the local community votes on whether it supports the plan
  5. If the plan is supported, it will be used to inform planning decisions in that neighbourhood