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Delegation Process for Decisions on Neighbourhood Plans in Cambridge

Meeting: 28/09/2023 - Planning and Transport Scrutiny Committee (Item 30)

30 Delegation Process for Decisions on Neighbourhood Plans in Cambridge pdf icon PDF 444 KB

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As there were currently no scheme of delegation for decisions relating to neighbourhood plans, and the first neighbourhood plan in Cambridge (for South Newnham) was progressing through the plan making process, it was now an appropriate time to review and agree the decision-making arrangements for South Newnham Neighbourhood Plan and any future neighbourhood plans.



Decision of the Executive Councillor for Planning, Building Control and Infrastructure

      i.         Approved the scheme of delegation, as set out in the Officer’s report, for decisions in relation to any neighbourhood plans within Cambridge City Council’s administrative area.


Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.


Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.


Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Principal Planning Policy Officer.


In response to Members’ questions the Principal Planning Policy Officer and Planning Policy Manager said the following:

      i.         Both the City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council had a duty to support community groups preparing neighbourhood plans.

    ii.         As part of the officer support, if there was a group of residents considering bringing forward a neighbourhood plan, officers would meet with them in the first instance to determine if a neighbourhood plan was the correct way forward to achieve their goals or if there was an alternative option.

   iii.         As there were no parish councils in Cambridge, residents would need to set up a neighbourhood forum which must meet specific requirements before an application could be submitted. Guidance would be provided of the process that needed to be followed to achieve this.

  iv.         A neighbourhood forum had to have a constitution in place.

    v.         It was possible for a neighbourhood plan to cover two wards across the city.

  vi.         Did not need to apply for a neighbourhood forum then a designated neighbourhood area, this could be done at the same time, but could be separately if preferred in no order.

 vii.         Throughout the process there were some decisions which have specified timeframes officers needed to make within five weeks, therefore asking that these decisions could be signed off by the Joint Director of Planning & Economic Development, rather than through the out of cycle decision process, to speed up the process and make decision making more efficient. 

viii.         Noted the comment that it was possible for the entire process not to come to Committee at any point and understood Members would like a commitment that there would be an opportunity to view full documentation during the plan process.

  ix.         For any decision made by the Executive Councillor which followed the out of cycle decision process, the Chair and Spokes would be consulted, and the decision would be reported to the next Committee meeting for information. 

    x.         There was a responsibility of the Council not to delay the process with the Council’s own procedures, but it would be the intention to share as much of the information with the committee as possible.

  xi.         When officers were drafting comments on pre-submission or submission versions of the neighbourhood plan, ward councillors would be notified.

 xii.         Those residents that agreed to form a neighbourhood forum needed to be aware it would take a large portion of time and commitment. There was a toolkit on the planning website on how to form a neighbourhood forum, develop a plan etc and residents would be supported by officers.

xiii.         The toolkit would be updated and relaunched; this provided an opportunity to work with residents’ associations to highlight the scheme.

xiv.         Noted the comment that neighbourhood planning would give residents ownership and investment in their place.


The Executive Councillor acknowledged it would be ideal if the submission(s) process could align with the scrutiny timetable, but if it was not possible information could be brought forward as record of decision to the committee. Would be happy to work with ward councillors to encourage residents to take the opportunity to develop a neighbourhood plan.


The Committee unanimously endorsed the Officer recommendations.


The Executive Councillor for Planning, Building Control and Transport approved the recommendations.


Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted).