Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP)?

NDPs are planning documents which are specific to local level planning. They have been introduced as part of the Government’s reforms to the planning system to give local people new opportunities to shape the development of the communities in which they live. An NDP can bring together residents, businesses, local groups, landowners and developers to share ideas and build consensus about what needs to be accomplished in their area. 

Does every parish have to prepare an NDP?

No. Preparation of NDPs is optional and it is recognised that not all areas will want to prepare one.

Who prepares them?

The preparation of an NDP is initiated and led by Parish or Town Councils, working with their local community. In areas where there is no parish/town council, they can be prepared by local people working together through a Neighbourhood Forum. Mortimer NDP was initiated by the Parish Council which set u[ a Steering Group of councillors and community members to carry out the work.

What area does an NDP cover?

An NDP would normally cover a whole parish (the neighbourhood area) but it could cover a smaller area if justified. Neighbourhood areas can also cover more than one parish area, if this is justified and providing all the Parishes involved agree to this. Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council applied for designation for the whole parish and this was granted so our NDP will cover the whole parish.

What does an NDP look like?

It is up to each community to decide what is included in an NDP and how much detail they wish to go into. Policies included in NDPs will need to be related to the use of land in the area or to spatial matters. It is likely that wider issues will arise during community engagement in the course of the plan making process.

Can an NDP stop development from happening in our area?

No, the Government has made clear that Neighbourhood Development Plans are not tools to stop development. They are intended to be enabling documents so they cannot, for instance, promote a lower rate of development in an area than may have already been agreed. They must also be consistent with national and local planning policies.

Who will decide planning applications once we have an NDP for Mortimer?

This will remain with West Berkshire Council as the local planning authority.

What conditions do NDPs have to meet?

To make sure the plans are legally compliant and take account of other local and national policies the plans have to meet a number of conditions before they can be put to a community referendum and legally come into force.  NDPs must be in line with:

  • national planning policy
  • strategic policies in the development plan for the local area, for example our core strategy
  • EU obligations and human rights requirements

and must also promote sustainable development.

Who checks that plans are compliant before they are voted on?

An independently qualified person then checks that an NDP appropriately meets the conditions before it can be voted on in a local referendum.

When are the plans implemented?

NDPs only take effect where there is a majority of support in a referendum. If proposals pass the referendum,  as the local planning authority West Berkshire Council will have a legal duty to bring them into force.

New FAQs (added 20th December 2016)

What is the situation following the public examination of the NDP?

The Examiner has recommended that WBC does not hold a referendum on the NDP on the grounds that insufficient work was carried out with regards to landscape assessment for the various sites.

It is up to West Berkshire Council (WBC) to decide whether to accept or reject that recommendation. There is a statutory timetable for WBC to make that decision. However it can be varied at the request of the qualifying body, which in this case is the Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council. They have requested such a delay to allow full consideration of the Examiner’s report.

What is happening now?

Meetings have been held between the parish council and WBC to discuss the future of the NDP.

As a result of those meetings WBC are commissioning landscape assessments of the sites in Mortimer so that they are better informed about that aspect of the examiner’s report. This will assist them in preparing their report to their Council meeting which will make a decision on a way forward.

At the same time both the parish council and WBC are considering the minor amendments to the NDP document that were suggested by the examiner. WBC are going to send through their suggestions to the parish council for comment. It is recognised that most of the minor amendments are just that, minor, and as such should be acceptable. The intention is to report back on this issue to the January meeting of the parish council.

Why is the recommendation of the Examiner not simply being accepted?

The Examiner has made it clear in his report that the reasons for his recommendation are extremely limited and that the vast majority of the NDP is acceptable, subject to very minor amendments. As the NDP is firmly based on the wishes of the community, as shown in the NDP evidence base, it seems appropriate to try and make those wishes a reality.

Can I make further submissions on the NDP or Comment on the Inspector’s Report?

Only if you have made comments or were consulted previously. This only happens if WBC is minded not to accept the Examiner’s recommendation because of new evidence. Under these circumstances WBC will give you a further opportunity to comment.

What happens if the NDP is rejected by WBC?

There is no certainty.

However, the WBC Housing Site Allocations DPD requires 110 homes in Mortimer and it states that “The Council reserves the right to identify opportunities to address any shortfall through the DPD process if the NDP is not adopted within 2 years of the adoption of the Housing Site Allocations DPD.”

The NDP policies to determine the type of development in Mortimer will be lost. The design of new developments will be more likely to be determined by the developers.

Without the NDP there is a greater possibility that other sites will be submitted for development and there will be no NDP policies to resist such proposals

Finally, the additional Community Infrastructure Levy money that comes to the parish council with an adopted NDP will be lost.

In the meantime, what is happening?

The Parish Council has established an NDP Implementation Committee. The Committee is pressing ahead with some of the projects arising from the NDP consultations. The projects currently being progressed are, an ‘Extension to the Station Car Park’, ‘Extension of Fairground Facilities and Sports Facilities’, and ‘Identify Heritage Sites and Develop a Mortimer Heritage Trail’. Other projects will be initiated when resources become available.

If you wish to become a volunteer and contribute to this process please contact the Parish Clerk.