Plan making - Why have agreements?

These agreements explain what the local authority will do to support the community, and often what the local authority will expect from the community.

Cornwall Council

Cornwall Council has a well signposted section on neighbourhood planning on its website that acts as the local portal to information. It has a publication called "Neighbourhood Planning Cornwall Council Support to Local Councils". It explains the main formats of support available. These are:

  • Advice through the website, toolkits, FAQ, a web forum and signposting to other sources of support.
  • Training – an introductory overview session for clusters of local councils (parish and town councils), and more detailed cluster sessions focussed on elements of plan production.
  • Information – neighbourhood profiles with brief guidance of policy implications.
  • Templates –
  • for posters, documents, community engagement tools etc. in addition to the statutory steps it is required to take.

The support offer directs people first and foremost to the web resources available. It also explains who to contact at progressive stages of plan making. So at the outset if a group is thinking of producing a plan the Community Network Manager will go through an overview and general discussion. If the group decides to proceed then they can speak with a Community Regeneration Officer who can advise on the Project Plan and help with community engagement processes. Also a Planning Friendly Link Officer can assist with the technical aspects of the plan. Finally, the local authority offers a facilitation service if a Steering Group needs this.

The support offer explains what is not included in the service i.e:

  • Regular officer attendance at meetings.
  • Carrying out or paying for statutory and non statutory assessments.
  • Design and print of documents, graphics etc.
  • Carrying out or paying for community survey work.
  • Incidental costs such as travel and refreshments.

It also explains that it expects good preparation and commitment from the community in terms of:

  • A realistic assessment of the local council's ability to create a neighbourhood plan.
  • Commitment of adequate funding to the task in its annual precept.
  • Agreement of and adherence to a detailed project plan for delivery.

The support offer explains clearly who does what in terms of different tasks in neighbourhood planning and divides these down to 21 stages from 'Scoping',
'Management and Project Planning', through 'Stakeholder Engagement', to 'Referendum' and 'Making' the plan. For each stage the source of support and required parish actions are set out with notes explaining more detail or the statutory requirement.

High Peak Borough

The High Peak Borough service offers background information for the parish, a lead officer who will work alongside the them providing critical friend support and beingan access point to technical support including the evidence base and mapping.

High Peak Borough Council, Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Council and Chapel Vision have a 'Memorandum of Understanding' for the development of a neighbourhood planning document for Chapel-en-le-Frith. It outlines the key roles and responsibilities of the main partners involved in the development of the document. In brief, the Parish Council will have the legal authority to promote a NDP and be responsible for the overall content and its submission to the Borough Council. The Borough Council will liaise with both the Parish Council and Chapel Vision to ensure that the document is in conformity with the emerging High Peak Local Plan and the appropriate procedures have been followed. Chapel Vision, in partnership with the Parish Council will be responsible for carrying out the work necessary to deliver the neighbourhood planning document. The memorandum includes a section on the declaration of interests.

The element of the Memorandum of Understanding that deals with Co-operation between the Borough Council, Parish Council and Chapel Vision covers:

  • How the grant from frontrunner status will be managed.
  • Provision of technical and procedural advice and evidence to aid conformity with national and local policy.
  • Work with the Parish to establish future development needs.
  • Provision of an officer to attend meetings of the Steering Group as required.
  • Advice on policy development.
  • Assistance with a sustainability appraisal and appropriate assessment if needed.
  • Liaison over the ultimate path of the document to examination or incorporation into the High Peak Local Plan.

Herefordshire Council

Herefordshire Councils have produced sample 'Service Level Agreements' for Neighbourhood Development Plans, Orders and Community Right to Build Orders. These are posted on their website ( confirm how the Council will undertake its statutory duties, the level and extent of the technical advice and guidance it will provide.They contain timetables for the local authority's responses e.g. 'two weeks following the end of the publicity period to agree the NDP area', or 'Referendum within 60 days of the decision document upon the Inspectors report'. They set out the precise technical support and advice that will be provided under the following topic headings:

  • Published advice- web links to the on line resources.
  • Professional advice – named officer contact details.
  • Initial meeting – officer to give overview of procedures and issues
  • Provision of background data/ evidence – list of advice, maps and information.
  • Draft Neighbourhood Development Plan – list of advice.

The Service Level Agreement makes it clear what the local authority will not provide i.e.

  • Writing documents.
  • Undertaking primary survey work.
  • Attend every meeting/ consultation event organised.
  • Direct financial support.

It also has a section on the obligations for the Parish/Town/City Council that include:

  • the establishment and details of a steering group,
  • the arrangement of an initial meeting with the Herefordshire Council contact officer,
  • the preparation of a Project Plan including a timetable, updates on progress and programme discussions with the support officer,
  • provision of the Final Plan in electronic form, and
  • sharing results of the primary source data.

Appended to the Service Level Agreement is a useful note explaining the information available below county level such as wards, parish, census data and the relationship between administrative and statistical geographies in Herefordshire.

Bristol City Council

Bristol City Council offers differing levels of support depending upon whether the area in question is within the Core Strategy regeneration areas, has high levels of deprivation, and has identified and significant development potential. If it meets these criteria the area receives level 2 support which differs from level 1 in that it involves provision of ongoing (rather than limited) support for process compliance with regular attendance at meetings and advice on the content of plans and orders.

The City Council will also agree a Memorandum of Understanding with a single point of contact for Level 2 support. The City Council is seeking to run the Memorandum of Understanding for 12 months, and among other matters agree between each relevant Cabinet member at the City Council and the forum the shared objectives including that Bristol City Council as LPA and landowner would seek to ensure most effective development outcomes; and appropriate delivery arrangements for development in accordance with the NDO/NDP.

The Memorandum of Understanding sets out ground rules for the working relationships of the parties such as minimising duplication of activity, respecting others views and ensuring proper understanding of the reasons for differences of opinion. It goes on to set out the service roles and responsibilities of the City Council and the Forum agreeing a regular period for progress reviews, overall submission milestone and method for dispute resolution.

Leeds City

The Leeds City draft service level agreement will outline the key responsibilities of the City Council, the Parish/Town Council or Neighbourhood Forum and role of business, developers and landowners. It will set out the City Council's role in decision making, management of the responsibilities and the implementation of plans. It will outline how it will fulfil the duty to support and give technical assistance. The expectation is that the agreement will be regularly reviewed with the Parish/Town Council or Neighbourhood Forum, and this will include the relationship between the support of the City Council and any support being provided by other organisations such as CABE or contracted consultants.

Harborough District Council

Harborough District Council and Lubenham Parish Council have a Memorandum of Understanding that relates to the allocation of roles and responsibilities between the Local Plan and the Neighbourhood Plan. It is in a situation where the proposed Neighbourhood Area falls within a strategic development area identified to the North West of Market Harborough in the Core Strategy. The strategic development area is to be converted into a strategic land allocation in the new District Local Plan. Master planning is already underway for development of the area which is being done with development interests and involving Lubenham Parish as part of a Community Partnership Group.   The Masterplan will be non statutory but will provide evidence to be reflected in both local and the neighbourhood plans during 2013/14.

The Local Plan (Core Strategy and Key Allocations) prepared by the District Council will set out:

  • Strategic policy for Market Harborough and strategic development area;
  • Allocation of land for development of strategic development area as a Strategic Site on an Ordnance Survey map with broad areas identified for the location of schools, local shopping, community uses and open spaces and showing road access points. It will be accompanied by a policy statement providing the Local Plan policy updating a Core Strategy policy.
  • Infrastructure requirements and transport mitigations;
  • Confirmation of dwelling capacity and employment capacity;
  • Housing delivery over period 2011- 2031; and
  • Phasing of housing and provision of through link road.

The Lubenham Neighbourhood Plan will complement Local Plan policies for the strategic development area by setting out local policy such as:

  • Design of housing and open spaces;
  • Landscaping – local issues;
  • Area of Separation definition;
  • Policy for Showground; and
  • Policy for Green Acres.
  • Local traffic management measures

The Parish Council will be included in decision making and benefits in regard to any Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), or its equivalent, that is relevant to the strategic development area that lies within the Parish. The District Council is planning to approve the Neighbourhood Area now on the basis of the Parish Council boundary which includes this strategic development area to the north west of Market Harborough but attach the agreement along with the published Area.