New powers for Backwell

PUBLISHED: 15:00 07 June 2011

Backwell Parish Hall

Backwell Parish Hall

Copyright Archant Ltd

New powers for Backwell

BACKWELL Parish Council has been chosen as one of just 31 councils across the country to try out a new scheme which gives local authorities more power to shape their communities.

The council has been chosen to take part in the Neighbourhood Planning Vanguards Scheme, which if successful will be rolled out across the country.

The scheme is part of the Government’s Big Society vision to give power to neighbourhood groups and boost social action.

Backwell district councillor, Tom Collinson said: “Karen Barclay and I are delighted that Backwell has been selected for the Vanguard scheme.

“It will mean that we are what the Government defines as a neighbourhood community with devolved powers.

“The Government is going to allow neighbourhoods to decide what sort of neighbourhood they require. We will have a lot more influence on planning applications. It’s about devolving power to the local people.”

To apply for the scheme the parish council had to provide evidence that Backwell is an active community capable of using the extra powers it will be given.

The scheme has been set up in advance of the new proposals for neighbourhood planning which are being introduced through the Localism Bill and each parish council taking part in the pilot will be given £20,000 to pay for any administrative costs.

The Localism Bill will enable designated local community groups and parish councils to bring forward proposals for a development plan for their area or for an order granting planning permission in that area.

They will be able to require the planning authority to assist them in the preparation of their proposals and the authority will also have to take the proposals to independent examination if asked to do so.

If proposals for plans or orders are carried in a local referendum, the local planning authority must adopt them as part of the area’s development plan.

As such, neighbourhood communities will be given real power to shape the way that the areas in which they live develop and grow.

Neighbourhood planning can be carried out now by community groups or parish councils, but local planning authorities are under no obligation to assist the process, to undertake an independent examination, to hold a referendum or to adopt the plan.

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