Details of £9.5m neighbourhood planning support contract are to be unveiled.
A voluntary sector umbrella group and five partner organisations have won a two-year government contract to support communities drawing up neighbourhood plans, ministers announced.
The £9.5million contract to deliver the new programme has been awarded to Locality, in partnership with the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Planning Aid England service, the Community Development Foundation, Urban Vision Enterprise, the Eden Project and URS. A Locality spokeswoman said that it would be the lead organisation for the programme.
Neighbourhood planning was introduced in the 2011 Localism Act and allows residents, businesses and parish and town councils to draw up plans to shape development in their areas.
The current support programme, intended to provide advice and assistance to communities working on neighbourhood plans, is shared by four organisations, including Locality and the RTPI, as well as the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. The funding expires on 31 March.
In a statement, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said under the new programme, starting on 1 April, community groups would be able to bid for up to £7,000 each to contribute to their plan preparation costs.DCLG added that communities would be able to submit applications for support and grants from 1 May with the first agreements expected later that month.
Neighbourhood planning groups including parish councils will find full details about the new 2-year programme from 15 April on the My Community Rights website (http://mycommunityrights.org.uk/). Communities will be able to submit applications for support and grants from 1 May. First payments and direct support packages are expected to be agreed in May.
A statement issued by the RTPI said that Planning Aid England would “work directly with neighbourhood planning groups to provide support, advice and professional input to the plans being prepared”.
Speaking this afternoon, communities minister Don Foster said: “This funding will provide practical help to people to make neighbourhood plans a reality in their community.” Locality chief executive Steve Wyler said: “Locality has experience of working with pioneering groups to design their own neighbourhood plans. This is an exciting opportunity, with guidance and grants enabling many more people to design their own environments and create sustainable solutions which meet the needs of those who live there.”
Dr Peter Geraghty, the RTPI president, added: “This is extremely good news for communities getting to grips with neighbourhood planning.”
DCLG added that details of the two-year programme would be available from 15 April on Localiity’s My Community Rights website.