Neighbourhood Planning and Community Led Housing

Neighbourhood planning is one of the government’s flagship policies for devolving power and decision-making to local communities. The government wants communities to become more self-reliant and to take advantage of new powers that are available to them under the 2011 Localism Act to improve their local areas, including neighbourhood planning.

  • Although the take up of neighbourhood planning across England since the Localism Act came into force in 2011 has been extensive – around 1650 areas are currently involved in neighbourhood planning – it is by no means universal, nor is it equally distributed across the country
  • Urban areas in particular have been slow to take up the right with only 11% of neighbourhood plan areas in urban areas and only 15% in the most deprived 25% of local authority areas.
  • A neighbourhood plan can put in place a statutory planning policy framework for a designated area. Drawn up by a local Council or Neighbourhood Forum, with support from a local authority, Neighbourhood Plans can be a powerful way of local communities exercising more control over development in their areas
  • Achieving a Neighbourhood Plan’s aims depends on suitable schemes being brought forward by private developers, public bodies, not-for-profit organisations, partnerships – or in an increasing number of situations - through community-led development
  • There are real benefits in considering community-led housing or other kinds of community-led development during the preparation of the neighbourhood plan or immediately after a plan is made

There are many reasons why a community might want to focus on community-led housing as part of a Neighbourhood Plan for their area:

  • A Neighbourhood Plan helps communities make decisions on what type of housing they need, where it should be built and who should occupy it
  • It can include policies around affordability, local lettings and retaining homes as community assets ‘in perpetuity’
  • It can identify specific sites for housing development and specify a proportion of them to be affordable and available to local people ‘in perpetuity’, for example through resale price covenants

Relevant Resources

Locality has produced a comprehensive set of documents on neighbourhood planning

Locality also offers a more general guide on neighbourhood planning

The Right to Build Toolkit has a useful section on ‘How Neighbourhood Planning can encourage private homebuilding”, which may be useful if self-build is envisaged as part of any community-led housing scheme

The Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England has produced its own guide to Neighbourhood Planning

The Lawrence Weston community in Bristol also has an approved Neighbourhood Development Plan which has a focus on community-led housing, particularly custom and self build

More information on the Lawrence Weston community


Cottenham Parish Council Neighbourhood Plan, South Cambridgeshire

Frome Neighbourhood Plan, Wiltshire


Last updated in March 2020