One hundred communities across England have voted for the adoption of their Neighbourhood Plans, Locality has announced.
According to Locality, the national network of community-led organisations, more than eight million people in 1,600 neighbourhoods across England now live in designated Neighbourhood Planning areas and today marks the day when the 100th Neighbourhood Planning referendum was successfully passed.
Neighbourhood Planning is designed to allow communities a say over where new homes, shops and offices are built in their areas.
They can also influence what new buildings should look like, and choose where new industries should be located. Local areas will also be able to enhance their high streets and protect their green spaces.
Locality delivers the Neighbourhood Planning programme on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government, and has supported groups through the Neighbourhood Planning process since the Localism Act first emerged in 2011.
They have so far allocated £6.7m in government grants to groups all over England.
Neighbourhood Plans are designed to allow communities to determine the future of their areas. Once a Neighbourhood Plan is passed at referendum it becomes part of Statutory Planning Policy and all planning decisions must legally be guided by it.
Locality chief executive Tony Armstrong said: ‘Neighbourhood Planning puts power back into the hands of people, instead of elected representatives, and gives them collective clout to really shape where they live for the benefit of the people who live there.’
More than 200,000 votes were cast in the referendums and turnout in some areas is higher than for the general election with an average of 88% of people voting ‘yes’.
‘In some cases,’ added Armstrong, ‘turnout for referendums has been higher than 60% which just goes to show how much people care about their own neighbourhoods. The fact that there are now 100 communities in England which have voted to adopt their plans is a real milestone and I hope many more areas will follow in their footsteps.’