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  • Writer's pictureDAC Planning Team

Neighbourhood Planning in an Unparished Area: Community Forums

Updated: Jul 10

So far, our blogs have covered neighbourhood planning for parish and town councils, but what about unparished areas?

image of a block of flats with tree in foreground

Qualifying Bodies

Neighbourhood plans can only be produced by a ‘qualifying body’[1]. This process is more straightforward for parish and town councils, who already exist as the qualifying body.

In areas without a parish or town council, organisations can submit an application to become the 'neighbourhood forum' for that area. Areas with examples of neighbourhood forums successfully producing ‘made’ neighbourhood plans include Bristol, Leeds and City of Westminster.

Neighbourhood forums are eligible to produce neighbourhood plans. Similarly to parish and town councils, the process requires a neighbourhood area designation. This can be done separately or alongside the neighbourhood forum application. It is advisable to contact your local council before applying to ensure that the boundary is appropriate.

Identifying a Neighbourhood Area

The boundary of a neighbourhood area should be logical and make sense to the local community. Existing boundaries, such as electoral wards, settlement boundaries or strategic areas of development. Factors including the sense of cohesiveness, design, population size and community networks should also be taken into account. Of note, neighbourhood areas cannot overlap.

Neighbourhood Forum and Neighbourhood Area Application

The following documentation and evidence are required to designate a neighbourhood area as a neighbourhood forum:

  • The name of the proposed neighbourhood forum.

  • A written constitution for the proposed neighbourhood forum (examples are available in Locality’s toolkit).

  • The name of the neighbourhood area to which the application relates and a map which identifies the area.

  • The contact details of at least one member of the proposed neighbourhood forum to be made public.

Applications for neighbourhood forum status also require a statement which explains that the proposed neighbourhood forum has:

  • Been established for the purposes of promoting or improving the social, environmental or economic wellbeing of the area.

  • Open membership arrangements for people who live, work or are locally elected members for the neighbourhood area.

  • At least 21 members who are individuals.

The application will be published for a statutory 6 week consultation period on the relevant Council’s website, as well as the application decision. A neighbourhood forum designation lasts for 5 years.

Once the neighbourhood area and neighbourhood forum applications are approved, it is time to start planning!


How we can help

DAC Planning provides specialist neighbourhood planning support for local communities and on behalf of local authorities.  We can provide support in preparing infrastructure plans and advise on CIL monitoring and templates.


For a discussion on how we can assist you, please get in touch with the team: / 01206 259281

This information is for general informative purposes only. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, DAC Planning accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from its use.

[1] The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012

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