Neighbourhood Planning enables communities to shape the future of their area, within certain limits. Residents can decide on where they want new homes and shops to be built and what they want them to look like.
The concept was introduced under the Localism Act in 2011 and now the DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) has made funding available of up to £7,000 per community to help them draw up their plans. Communities will be able to apply for grants and support from a number of organisations working with nationwide charity Locality. Information is available via a website, My Community Rights, which offers advice and links to support and guidance for Neighbourhood Planning and other localism rights: www.mycommunityrights.org.uk
Dorset Community Action is an independent organisation with a long history of supporting rural communities, and as Alex Picot, its Chief Executive explains, “The DCLG funding is great news for communities who are in a position to access the monies that are available. With up to £7,000 available per community it demonstrates the Government’s commitment to supporting ‘localism’.”
“We are ready to support communities to submit an application for the grants available, and to make the most of the money. For many years we have helped Dorset’s rural communities with community planning, and we are in a good position to help Parish Councils and communities through the Neighbourhood Planning process so that their plans can stand up to the consultation, inspection and referenda stages.”
DCA has a strong track record of supporting a number of communities across the county with Neighbourhood Planning, including Portland, Gillingham, and the Cerne Valley in West Dorset which is one of 200 communities across the country already up and running as Neighbourhood Planning ‘frontrunners’. Support has ranged from helping them with grant applications from local authorities, to participating in workshops and consultation meetings.
Communities who want to develop a Neighbourhood Plan can contact Simon Thompson at Dorset Community Action on 01305 216412 or visit www.dorsetcommunityaction.org.uk