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Updated: 30.11.2010


Electoral wards and parish councils are likely to form the basis of neighbourhood plan boundaries, according to junior planning minister Bob Neill MP.

Mr Neill told the Royal Town and Planning Institution politicians in planning network conference in Sheffield that the government will not define how neighbourhood plan boundaries are to be set.

"Some will define themselves. Wards are a start and parishes are a natural unit in rural areas. We are fairly open as to how it’s done as long as it is done", he said.

He added: "Abolition of binding local plans reports doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for inspectors in establishing compliance with national policy, but we are not trying to prescribe much beyond that. The Planning Inspectorate won’t be rewriting whole documents."

Mr Neill dismissed suggestions that amendments to the Use Classes Order suggest an underlying centralist tendency.

"We are not imposing targets or saying councils have to give permission," he insisted. "But some local authorities have given indications that they are ideologically hostile to free schools, so we want to avoid planning being used to obstruct education policy."