How long is a Neighbourhood Plan?

About the same length as a piece of string, apparently.

There is nothing in the Localism legislation or the official guidelines to say how long a Neighbourhood Plan remains in force once it has been approved by referendum and adopted as part of the Local Plan.

Various local authorities have come up with different interpretations – for instance:

“There is no guidance as to how long a neighbourhood plan should last, but a plan period of about 10-15 years would be reasonable. It will, though be necessary to monitor the plan and undertake a review or reviews if circumstances change.”

“A period of 15 years from the date they are accepted by the community.”

“A neighbourhood plan is required to state what time period it covers and this is a decision for each community that produces one … it may be prudent to follow the time period of other Development Plan Documents … but this is not a legal requirement … If a local community would like to refresh its plan further consultation will be required followed by an examination and referendum.”

But the most commonly quoted interpretation is:

“A Neighbourhood Plan will normally last for five years at which point it should be reviewed. It will also be possible to review the Plan within the five year period if necessary.”

We’re told that our Neighbourhood Plan is essential to protect the Creek from uncontrolled development (and Swale Borough Council from the expense of defending planning appeals) – but how much is that protection worth if it only lasts for five years and possibly not even that long?

If anyone from the Neighbourhood Plan steering group is reading this, could they please tell us whether the group has formed a view or taken advice on this issue. How long will the plan remain in force? Could it be amended during that time – and if so, in what circumstances and with what procedures?

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