About the templates

Each of the templates follows a common set of headers. These are explained in detail below:


The topic areas used in the examples reflect feedback from the early waves of the Government Front Runner programme for neighbourhood planning. These are the topic areas that groups commonly identified to be a focus for their neighbourhood plans. However, this list is not exhaustive but gives a flavour of the level of detail and structure necessary to help ensure that the preparation of a neighbourhood plan is robust.

These examples focus on more technical evidence yet the importance of community engagement must not be overlooked and it will be necessary to ensure that neighbourhood groups undertake necessary community engagement through the preparation of their plan.

Specific issues to be addressed

These are issues within the given topic area that have commonly been raised by neighbourhood groups, e.g. lack of affordable market housing and lack of local facilities for youths.  

What do neighbourhood groups have to be able to properly demonstrate with the evidence they collect in order to ensure that NP policy is robust?

This is effectively where an LPA ‘sets the bar' to give a neighbourhood group more confidence that its neighbourhood plan policy is going to stand up to scrutiny. It is a simple statement of what the evidence must seek to demonstrate in order that sound policy can be formed. 

What evidence do neighbourhood groups need to collect to help them demonstrate the issue and develop policy?

This is where the LPA can help a neighbourhood group focus on the ‘building blocks' of evidence that they will need to collect in order to demonstrate that a perceived issue is an issue in reality. In simple terms it is a ‘walk through' of how a neighbourhood group might present the case on a particular issue. Usually this will follow a common pattern:

  • Assess the current supply of the facility/service in question (quantity and quality) 
  • Assess demand for the facility/service
  • Show how the facility/service can be delivered without compromising viability


What questions should they ask (either through a survey or focus group, etc) in order to gather effective evidence?

The neighbourhood groups can use a range of different techniques in order to gather evidence. This can be quantitative, in the form of a survey, or qualitative, perhaps using a focus group for example. Either way, it will be important that the LPA helps the neighbourhood group to ensure that the right questions are asked and recorded. Moreover, these questions have to be worded in the right way, particularly in a survey. Poorly worded questions can mean that it doesn't provide a sufficiently clear answer to what is being asked.



What evidence have you got to help neighbourhoods demonstrate the issue and develop policy? - How useful is it for them? - Is it in a useable form?





Useable format?

Before neighbourhood groups collect their own evidence, it is important for them to understand what evidence is already available. This might be enough for them to use. LPAs have access to a raft of evidence and data. This is not only the reports that make up their evidence base – strategic housing land availability assessments, employment land reviews, strategic flood risk assessments, etc – but also monitoring data used to inform annual monitoring reports, e.g. data on housing completions and permissions.

Some of this data may not be in a user-friendly format and this could be an issue. For example Microsoft Access databases or GIS data is fine if the group has the knowledge and access to the appropriate software packages (and that the need for data protection and appropriate licences for software have been taken into account); if not, can it be put into a useable format?

LPAs will need to think about the type of support that most groups are going to need. For example, with GIS mapping, most groups are going to want to be provided with paper mapping, potentially both Ordnance Survey base mapping and constraints mapping, e.g. green belt, AONB, flood zone 1, etc. In the case of the constraints mapping, support may subsequently be needed with the interpretation of this. Indeed, interpretation is critical – the LPA role should be to simplify what is available and provide clarify as to what it means for non-planners.



1 August 2012

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