Neighbourhood Plans were introduced by Government through the Localism Act in 2011.
Once they have successfully completed the preparation process, Neighbourhood Plans will legally have policy status and will be used to help decide planning applications, within the parameters set by the district-wide local plan, a neighbourhood plan must be used to positively encourage sustainable development.
Following the end of a period of public consultation, the District Council must decide whether to designate the proposed neighbourhood area. If agreed, the Parish Council may commence work on preparing the Neighbourhood Plan. A draft Plan must be subject to a formal 6 week public consultation before being submitted to the District Council for examination by an independent Examiner. If the Plan is approved, a referendum is held within the Parish to decide whether the Plan should be used by the District Council to decide upon planning applications within the neighbourhood area.
In Epping Forest District, Neighbourhood Plans may be prepared by Town/Parish Councils, and there are currently 9 designated areas (see map below). Epping Forest District Council is required to provide support to Town/Parish Councils in their preparation of Neighbourhood Plans. A note has been prepared which sets out the support that is available for EFDC and other organisations: