How is a Neighbourhood Plan made?

Neighbourhood Plans are led by authorised local community organisations, most often parish councils or Neighbourhood Forums that represent a specific urban area.

There are five stages in making a Neighbourhood Plan. It is our duty as the planning authority to support organisations at every stage.

Stage 1: Application and Designation

Neighbourhood plans can only be prepared by certain groups and organisations. These include Parish Councils and Neighbourhood Forums, but anyone can volunteer to help.

For more information as to whether you qualify, and other general guidance on Neighbourhood Plans, please see page eight of this Locality Guidance.

If your organisation meets these requirements and you wish to apply to be designated as a ‘neighbourhood planning area’, you can apply using our Neighbourhood Plan application form.

Under Regulations 5, 6 and 7 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012, we will provide advice on the legal process of designating a plan, on joint neighbourhood plans (clustering) and guidance on completing the application form. We will provide Ordinance Survey base maps that can be used to accompany your application.

If the application covers the whole of a Parish Area no consultation is needed, however, if applications cover part of a parish or is a Neighbourhood Forum consultation is required

We will publish the outcome of the neighbourhood plan application once a decision has been made.

Financial and professional assistance

All financial assistance is provided by a technical assistance package from Locality, the government body responsible for neighbourhood plans. This funding will help pay for professional assistance in technical work which goes towards your evidence base.

Download the application form

Stage 2: Drafting and Consultation

Our Strategic Planning team and its neighbourhood planning officers are on hand to help through meetings, over the phone or via email during the application process. They can provide:

  • An information pack on finances, consultants and data sources
  • Links to baseline information on plans and policies, including explaining national and local policies
  • Updates on emerging planning practice and guidance for parish councils and qualifying bodies on Yammer, a free social networking platform
  • Useful Development Plan Documents, including the Horsham District Planning Framework and Site Specific Allocations of Land

Evidence base

Our team will provide advice and support during the Evidence Base stage, including:

  • Housing Needs Assessment
  • Site Assessment Report
  • Local Green Spaces Report
  • Consultation Statement (and Appendices)
  • Basic Conditions Statement
  • Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment (and Appendices)
  • Timeline of Plan

Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment

Our team will provide:

  • Guidance notes on the Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment process
  • Screening Options where appropriate
  • Advice/comment on Scoping Reports
  • Review Draft SA/SEAs

Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA)

We will provide a Habitat Regulation Screening Assessment screening opinion for Pulborough, Thakeham, West Chiltington, and Storrington Sullington and Washington, and work with Natural England for other designated areas. If a Habitat Regulation Assessment is required, we will appoint a consultant and work with them.

Drafting the Neighbourhood Plan

The plan will mainly be drafted by your planning consultant and yourself, but our team will offer the following support:

  • Guidance on policy writing
  • Optional six-week ‘Health Check’ of the plan, involving all departments at the Council
  • Advice on the legal requirements for consultation and publicity for Pre-Submission and Submission

Consultation on the Draft Neighbourhood Plan

Under Regulation 14 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012, a Draft Neighbourhood Plan will be submitted for a public consultation over a six week period. The planners will then consider representations received from the public and amend the plan accordingly.

These contacts of statutory and non-statutory consultees should be considered when consulting on the different stages and aspects of neighbourhood planning. Please note not all contacts will be applicable to your area and theses lists are not exhaustive.

If you require any help in identifying who to contact during your Regulation 14 consultation, please contact us at

Stage 3: Independent Examination

Following consultation on the Pre Submission Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP), the proposed NDP (and all supporting documentation) must be submitted for examination under Regulations 16 and 17 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012.

We will then undertake the following roles:

Prior to examination

  • Check that the NDP meets the basic conditions
  • Ensure the proposed plan is publicised and invite comments over a six week period
  • Manage the public consultation


  • Appoint an Examiner, sourced through the NPIERS
  • Send the appointed person the plan proposal, relevant documents and a copy of the representations made an independent Examiner for examination.
  • Organise and host the examination at the request of the examiner
  • Liaise with the Examiner on behalf of the Parish Council or qualifying body
  • Cover the associated cost of the Examination


If an Examiner recommends modifications are made prior to proceeding to referendum, we will:

  • Explain and discuss the modifications with the parish council/qualifying body
  • Make the suggested modifications that are required to ensure the plan meets the basic conditions

After the examination

Under Regulation 18 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012, following the examination we will publish and share the Examiner's Report, the Decision Statement and the Neighbourhood Development Plan. If the Neighbourhood Development Plan meets the basic conditions, the Examiner will recommend that it proceeds to Referendum stage.

Stage 4: Referendum

If the Neighbourhood Development Plan meets the basic conditions, the Examiner will recommend that it proceeds to Referendum stage. We will then arrange for the referendum to take place, giving 28 working days notice of the referendum, and cover the associated cost.

If more than 50% of those voting in the referendum vote ‘Yes’, we will bring the Neighbourhood Development Plan into legal force.

If the plan does not pass the Referendum, or does not meet the basic conditions, we will provide advice on how best to proceed.

Stage 5: Making the Neighbourhood Development Plan

Once the Neighbourhood Plan has been brought into legal force, it is considered ‘Made’. We will then use it to determine planning applications and guide planning decisions in the Neighbourhood area.

In order to support the making of the Neighbourhood Plan, we will:

  • Promote the making of the Neighbourhood Plan internally with District Council Members and Council departments, and externally on the Council website
  • Alert Agent Forums, consultants and developers to the making of a Neighbourhood Development Plan
  • Work with the Parish Council or qualifying body to ensure circulation of knowledge and any lessons learnt from the process
  • Manage and advise on any queries on appearing or challenging the Examiners Report or Referendum