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Last revised June 24, 2023

Anyone can start up a planning group, though there are already many planning groups already set up in Bristol, so start by looking at the NPN map here to see if there is one you can join.

If there is already a local group, start by contacting them to see whether you could work with them. If there is no group, here is some advice on setting up a group and sources of help including where you can get training about planning and how to get effective involvement in decision making.

A planning group needs to firstly consider the following:

  • what area they identify as their ‘neighbourhood’ which they will cover in their responses
  • how they are going to involve the whole community to find out what issues and aims they have for their area, that the group can use to evidence their planning responses to developers or planning officers
  • how they are going to involve the local councillors in the group- ie as members or as part of the community involvement

Important note: Neighbourhood Planning Network groups do not oppose all development, but try to work constructively with  the local planning authority, and with developers to identify the right form of development in their area, for the benefit of the whole community.  NPN groups look at the impact of a development for the whole area, not just on the residents in properties surrounding a development site.

Groups joining the Network must confirm that they comply with these 4 Terms of Reference to promote transparency and wider involvement:

  • to show that they are open to all residents in their area;
  • openly advertise their meetings by for example by email or Newsletter;
  • elect representatives by a general meeting at least once each year and
  • seek to represent a consensus view.

If groups do not hold an annual meeting to elect representatives they must explain how they ensure that they are representative and open to all.

Groups should also be able to supply (to the NPN network administrator)

  • details of the area that they cover, eg by streets that form the boundary, and
  • 2 contact names with email addresses if available and telephone numbers.
These contact details will be given to planning officers and developers by the NPN pre application monitoring group so that they set up meetings to find out what the local community’s views are on a particular development proposal.

If you wish to set up a planning group as a Neighbourhood Planning Forum, in order to draw up a Neighbourhood Development Plan under the Localism Act, you will also needs to comply with additional requirements eg have a constitution. See BCC website for Bristol City Council guidance on forming a Neighbourhood Planning Forum planning group

Before you decide that you want to be a Neighbourhood Planning Forum, you should discuss your application with the BCC strategic planning officer and it is advisable to have attended one of the training events run by BCC and NPN about what this entails.

See guidance on How to do your own plan.