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UK government announces £23m in additional funding for neighbourhood planning

The UK government has announced that it is making £23 million available to support local community groups in England in bringing forward neighbourhood plans and neighbourhood development orders to guide development in their local areas.

The funding, announced by the department for communities and local government on Friday, means that a total of £22.5m will be available from 2015 to 2018 for the provision of "expert advice, grant funding and technical assistance" to community groups seeking to get involved in neighbourhood planning.

A £12m funding pot will assist local planning authorities in their duties to provide advice and assistance to community groups, to examine neighbourhood planning documents and to arrange local referendums to vote on whether documents should be adopted. Councils can apply for £5,000 for each neighbourhood plan area designated, up to a maximum of 20 areas per year; a further £5,000 when a final draft neighbourhood plan is published prior to examination; and £20,000 on the successful completion of an examination.

The designation of a neighbourhood forum will also entitle local authorities to a grant of £5,000. Where designated neighbourhoods are in "business areas", councils will be able to apply for an additional £10,000 payment at the same time as the £20,000 for a successful examination.

Community groups will be able to apply directly for a share of £1m in grants this financial year, with up to £7,000 available for each successful applicant. A further £100,000 will be provided to help groups to organise local workshops to provide communities with the information required to start preparing a neighbourhood plan.

"With more than a thousand communities across the country already involved in neighbourhood planning this government is giving local people a real say in shaping what gets built where in their local area, and encouraging much needed new house building," said housing minister Brandon Lewis in a statement.

"I now want to take this further, to get more people and communities involved in neighbourhood planning, and the £23m I am announcing today will help many more community groups to bring their neighbourhood plans into reality." 

The power for communities to work up plans for neighbourhood areas was introduced by the government in the Localism Act in 2012. Around 1,200 communities have taken advantage of the powers to begin work on plans, with 33 plans having been approved in local referendums.

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