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Last revised August 14, 2022


What is a Neighbourhood Development Plan?

a document / formal statement/ book that includes:

What the community wants to see happen in the area

    •  the vision,  issues and opportunities for change

Where it could happen

    • the sites and places where change can be encouraged

How it could happen

    •  what those changes could be
    •  options for and ultimately designations of land uses
    •  the policy encouragement and constraints on change

When it could happen

    • an idea of time frame


    • the plan can help set some principles for change in the area which development must meet


    • It must be based on evidence of need

Projects to make the place better

  •  identified by the community; these can be shown as opportunities in the Plan

Community: Making the plan should include everyone

Remember: it must help development happen and should be realistic about the opportunities for change

Drawing up a Neighbourhood Development Plan

Under the Localism Act 2011, communities were given the power to draw up their own Neighbourhood (Development) Plans which would then be adopted as policy by the Local Planning Authority.

The Act refers to Neighbourhood Plans but this has led to confusion because not all Neighbourhood Plans are spatial plans, that is about building and developing the area; in Bristol therefore we refer to the plans as Neighbourhood Development Plans – NDP.

In Bristol, the local authority area is not broken down into separate parishes so there is no body already in place to draw up a NDP for an area. The community therefore has to identify the area which it would like the NDP to cover, this is called the Neighbourhood Planning Area NPA, and be confirmed as the appropriate body  to carry out the task ie the Neighbourhood Planning Forum NPF.

Neighbourhood Development Plan NDP, using powers in the Localism Act, has statutory ‘weight‘, that means it is a planning policy document which is an important consideration when future development proposals for the area are assessed.

Requirements for designating a Neighbourhood Planning Area and becoming a Neighbourhood Planning Forum in Bristol are on the BCC website.

Any group or person considering applying should discuss this with the BCC strategic planning officer before making the application.

  • Agree NPA boundaries.
    • No two groups may cover the same area, so the boundaries of a NPA must be agreed so that adjoining communities are neither excluded from involvement in the plan nor included against their wishes, for instance if they wish to do their own plan.
    • The area plan will be subject to a referendum in order to become policy. The people within the area plan will all have a vote and the process for setting up a vote for an area in the city has yet to be tested. The city is divided into wards and then subdivided into super output areas, and all census information and voting processes are based on those areas. Aligning a boundary with those may make evidence collecting and referendum voting easier. However this is not a requirement.
    • Local Ward councillors will be involved; there may be advantages in considering ward boundaries when setting out the NPA, but this is not a requirement.
  • Set up a Neighbourhood Planning Forum
    • A minimum of 21 people are needed.
    • Those 21 should be ‘representative’ of the community ie they should come from across the whole area, be from both local workers and residents, as well as local ward councillors, from different sections of the community eg from different ethnic groups, age etc, or a consultation strategy which ensures that all those sectors of the community are involved in drawing up the plans.
    • the NPF must be set up to promote or improve the social, economic and environmental well-being of the area that has been designated and the purpose of the organisation reflects (in general terms) the character of the area.

BCC has set out guidance on applying to be the NPF

Bristol City Council Neighbourhood Planning guidance

National Planning Practice Guidance: Neighbourhood Planning

Funding for Neighbourhood Development Plans

Locality has funding for groups drawing up NDP.

How to shape where you live:
– a CPRE guide to neighbourhood planning

BCC/Planning Aid Masterclass papers.

14-06-18 Housing policy summaries

42 KB  July 2, 2014

14-06-18 Census Definitions

32 KB  July 2, 2014

14-06-18 Workshop questions

32 KB  July 2, 2014

14-06-18 NP Workshop

2.76 MB  July 2, 2014

14-05-14 Policy writing Bristol

1.24 MB  July 2, 2014

14-04-30 Reg 14 Consultation

1.08 MB  July 2, 2014

14-04-30 Our Place

11.41 MB  July 2, 2014