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  • Joshua Guy

Be prepared for a change in government with proactive community support for your local neighbourhood plans

Local (parish and town) councils across the UK play a pivotal role in shaping their communities through Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDPs).  While national politics can have a significant ripple effect on these local planning initiatives, early and inclusive consultation offers a powerful tool to strengthen your NDP.  

With general elections serving as potential turning points, it's essential for clerks and councillors to understand how a new government could impact your NDP efforts and how early engagement can boost support and funding.

Here's how a general election in the UK could affect neighbourhood planning:

Changes in government policy

Priorities: A new government may have different priorities regarding land use, development, and local control. This could lead to changes in the emphasis placed on neighbourhood planning or the level of support offered.

Legislation: A change of government could introduce new laws and regulations directly impacting neighbourhood planning processes, the scope of powers these plans have, and their relationship to broader planning frameworks.

Funding: Funding allocated for supporting communities with neighbourhood planning could be increased, decreased, or withdrawn altogether, depending on a new government's priorities.

Influence on local planning authorities

Political composition: The political party in control of a local planning authority will influence attitudes towards neighbourhood plans. A change in power following a general election might lead to a shift in how supportive or even obstructive a local planning authority is regarding these plans.

Guidance: The national government plays a role in providing guidance to local planning authorities about neighbourhood planning. A change of government could bring revised best practices and interpretations of relevant legislation.

Shifts in community engagement

Public opinion: A general election outcome could influence levels of community interest in or opposition to neighbourhood planning. If an elected government appears unsupportive of local planning initiatives, it may discourage community involvement and lead to existing plans stalling. 

However, our RTPI planning consultant Steve Bedford Foster expects future governments, regardless of political affiliation, to continue supporting neighbourhood development planning.

Resource constraints: If a new government introduces broader austerity measures, it might affect the resources that communities can draw on to develop and deliver neighbourhood plans.

How neighbourhood plans can be protected

To limit the potential negative impacts of a general election on neighbourhood planning, communities can:

  • Build strong plans: Well-crafted neighbourhood plans that align with national policy frameworks and have strong community support are more resilient to governmental changes.

  • Build relationships: Maintaining positive relationships with local planning authorities, regardless of political control, can provide some stability, easing the process of working across parties.

  • Stay informed: Stay aware of proposed policy changes from different political parties and potential shifts in funding/support.

  • Getting well connected: Regardless of what happens nationally local councils that have strong and robust processes for engaging with their communities and responding to needs, will be well placed to serve fully and effectively lead those communities.

  • Start early: Initial and broad-based consultation is crucial for understanding your community's need for an NDP. GoCollaborate can help by providing platforms and expert support to maximize the effectiveness of your engagement efforts throughout the NDP journey.

While national elections can bring uncertainty for neighbourhood planning, a proactive and strategic approach can mitigate potential disruptions. 

By staying informed, building robust NDPs that demonstrate strong community backing, and fostering strong relationships within your community and local planning authorities, you can ensure your plans remain resilient and effective in serving your community's vision, regardless of the political landscape.


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