What different types of development or ways of using land would benefit your community?
It can be tempting to launch straight into preparing your draft Neighbourhood Plan. And you may think you already know what needs to happen. However, there are often choices to be made.
If your local planning authority has advised you that your Neighbourhood Plan requires a Sustainability Appraisal, you will need to consider different options to include in the plan (also known as 'reasonable alternatives' in a Sustainability Appraisal). Even if your Neighbourhood Plan does not require Sustainability Appraisal, the consideration of different options can help you decide what works well and what doesn't, and to gather people's views on which option they would prefer to see happen.
Options can be generated from ideas developed by the parish or town council, by the neighbourhood forum, or from other consultation exercises that you may have held involving the wider community. If you have developed a vision and/or objectives, you may wish to see which options are most likely to achieve them.
Two rural parishes in Northumberland propose more affordable housing, a new high school and education campus in their Neighbourhood Plan
The sort of options you want to consider could vary depending upon the type of Neighbourhood Plan that you are preparing, for example whether it is general and broad-brush, or narrow and detailed. Examples of types of options include:
You may need to generate a series of options for dealing with different issues. The number of options that you will generate is likely to be influenced by the intended scope of your Neighbourhood Plan:
The Community Infrastructure Levy may help fund projects in your Neighbourhood Plan - talk to your local plans team to find out more
When considering options, it's important that they are realistic and achievable. If you have aspirations for a new children's play area, for example, how might this be delivered and who would pay for it? If you believe there is a need for more affordable housing in your community, is there a housing association or a key landowner that you could have initial discussions with to help identify appropriate sites?
In developing your options it is advisable that you check them against the strategy and policies in the Local Plan to ensure that there are no major conflicts. It may also be sensible to ask the local planning authority if your options are reasonable, and also to check whether there are any issues in the technical work that they have carried out in connection with the Local Plan that ought to be taken into account. This might include, for example, a survey of local housing need.
If you are undertaking a Sustainability Appraisal it can play an important role in helping to test your options. See pp.49-52 of this guide for further information.
Having defined your options, you may find it helpful to consult on the findings to help inform your final choice. At a minimum, the options you have identified should be considered by the parish or town council, or by the full neighbourhood forum.