What is a neighbourhood plan? And what to include

Neighbourhood planning is booming across England with more and more people working hard to shape their communities.

Neighbourhood planning gives communities in England the right to develop their own plans. Once approved, they form part of the local planning authority’s local plan. Planning is devolved to the nations and sadly neighbourhood planning is an England-specific power. But if you live elsewhere in the UK remember you can still shape the future of your local community by engaging with the development of your local plan.

Plans are written by parish councils or designated community forums. It is a great opportunity for communities to consider the assets and challenges your community has. Drawing up proposals and policies that have real bite in the planning process allows communities to shape their future in a way they have never been able to before.

As of December 2017, more than 1,900 communities, including 8.6 million people are drawing up plans. Following successful referendums, 270 plans have been ‘made’ by local planning authorities across England. That’s a lot of passionate people working hard to plan for their future.

Tree lined streets make for more attractive and healthier communities (Photo: Phil Formby)
Tree lined streets make for more attractive and healthier communities (Photo: Phil Formby)

Put trees at the heart of your community

Put trees in your plan

What neighbourhood planning can do for you

Neighbourhood planning is a great opportunity to think about how trees can enhance your community and the lives of its residents. We all accept that we need to build new housing, but how can we make these new communities better? By making them healthy, green places rich in woods and trees. Places where people really want to live and work. There are lots of ways to do this. For example, you could ask that each new house requires a new street tree, likewise car parks must have trees within them. Make sure they adhere to the Woodland Access Standard.

You can also think about how trees can be used to reduce the impacts of flooding and air pollution in your community. You could even try working with a local landowner and plant trees that can enhance educational opportunities or the visual amenity of an area.

Discover the amazing woods and trees in your area

It is important to map your current trees and think about the benefits they bring. What happens when they reach the end of their natural life? Do you have succession planting plans in place? There are so many questions neighbourhood planning can help answer.

Talking of the trees you already have, is there ancient woodland in your community? You can learn how to identify ancient woodland and ancient trees with this useful mapping tool. You can also check for ancient trees and log your trees with the Ancient Tree Hunt.

Neighbourhood planning – planning for your community’s future (Photo: Victoria Bankes Price)
Neighbourhood planning – planning for your community’s future (Photo: Victoria Bankes Price)

What you can do

We're working hard to improve ancient woodland protection nationally in the National Planning Policy Framework, but as it stands that protection is still too weak. Making your own plan gives you the chance to give your ancient woods and trees real protection.

We hope that you will choose to put trees in your plan. There are loads of resources out there to help you do this. Our Neighbourhood Planning Microsite is a good starting point and for more detail on all things trees, you'll find our evidence, policy and practice section helpful.

But above all, please do get in touch, share your stories and experiences with us and we will share ours with you so we can help develop lots of wooded neighbourhood plans all over England.

Put trees at the heart of your community

Put trees in your plan