The Government has recently introduced new legislation, in the form of neighbourhood planning powers, that will allow local communities to have greater control over the look and feel of their area.

Planning is complex, and so the structures must be in place to ensure communities have the necessary support in this process. The profession has a key role to play in enabling the best outcomes from this policy initiative and we are looking to explore the ways in which to provide both the structures and funding to ensure that neighbourhood planning is a success.  

RIBA/ResPublica Discussion Paper - Re-thinking Neighbourhood Planning: From consultation to collaboration

Written in collaboration with think tank ResPublica, this discussion paper argues that involving communities in neighbourhood planning on a collaborative, rather than purely consultative basis will not only lead to a more successful and meaningful process, but can also generate social capital and value: stronger and more cohesive communities. The publication recommends that:  

The benefits of good design and meaningful community engagement should be recognised as a measurable social outcome
Government should appoint an independent panel of experts to define the metrics and structures required to capture the social value created though the neighbourhood planning process.

An evidence base from Local Authorities should be used by the Government in order to extend the 'community budgets' programme and to create a new ‘Total Neighbourhood’ approach.

The Government should make a ‘Neighbourhood Partnership Agreement’ between residents, local business, local authorities, developers, and design professionals a statutory requirement for every Neighbourhood Plan.

In short, by designing with, rather than for, communities, neighbourhood planning can lead to more appropriate and successful local planning and help create better places. But this kind of collaboration within the planning process – if done in a comprehensive and meaningful way – can also help create stronger, more cohesive communities, generating social capital through an improved sense of collective agency. 
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