The introduction of Neighbourhood Planning is part of broader changes to the planning system introduced by the Localism Act.  The Act aims to shift power from central government to local councils and their communities giving them the opportunity to be able to do things their way and shape and influence the decisions that affect the places where they live.

The Localism Act enables areas without parishes such as Spelthorne to set up neighbourhood forums, the opportunity to use tools such as Neighbourhood Development Plans and Neighbourhood Development Orders to plan for development in their area in consultation with local residents, businesses and other interested parties.

Certain procedures and requirements need to be followed in undertaking neighbourhood planning and the Council has a duty to provide technical and practical support to those that decide to prepare a Neighbourhood Development Plan or Order.  However, these neighbourhood planning initiatives are tools to promote sustainable development and will not be able to prevent development in an area.  They can only promote proposals for an equal (or greater) amount of growth than is set out in the local authority's development plan.

Key aspects of neighbourhood planning include:

  • Neighbourhood development plans must contain policies which conform with the Council's Adopted Local Plan and National Planning Guidance;
  • Local communities will not be able to use neighbourhood plans to reduce the amount of development identified for their areas in the Local Plan - but they can propose more;
  • Plans will have very significant weight in the planning process and determination of planning applications in the area;
  • Neighbourhood planning is not compulsory, but if undertaken must be prepared following a formal process;
  • In non-parish areas like Spelthorne councils will have to consider who would be able to act as the appropriate 'neighbourhood forum';
  • An independent examination of a Neighbourhood Plan will be needed, followed by a referendum before it can be formally adopted.  The referendum ensures that the community has the final say on whether a Neighbourhood Plan comes into force

Neighbourhood planning in your area

If Neighbourhood Planning is something you believe your community would be interested in you must register your interest by contacting the Council's Planning Policy team at

Find out more

Free advice and guidance is available from a number of sources: