Neighbourhood Planning Referenda

Neighbourhood Planning Referenda

The Neighbourhood Planning (Referendums) Regulations 2012

Neighbourhood Planning aims to help local communities play a direct role in planning their local area. Neighbourhood Plans are voluntary and in the District of North Kesteven, these can be prepared by Town or Parish Councils. The plans can set out how the community would like land to be used and developed in the area it covers and to set other local planning policies.

Once a Neighbourhood Plan has been prepared, an independent examiner will check to ensure that it meets the right basic conditions. The Council will consider the Examiner’s report and organise a referendum on any plan that passes examination. This means that the community has the final say on whether a Neighbourhood Plan is made by the Council and becomes part of the development plan for the area it covers.

Process

Once a Neighbourhood Development Plan has been submitted to the Local Planning Authority and has gone through due process, a referendum must be held asking the local electorate whether or not they support the Plan.

The following are some of the salient points to note from the above regulations governing the referendum:

  • It is North Kesteven District Council’s responsibility to organise the referendum.
  • All voters appearing on the register of local government electors are eligible to vote. Voters must be 18 or over.
  • The question to be asked at the referendum is set in legislation and cannot be altered either by the Town/Parish council or by North Kesteven District Council.
  • The Counting Officer for the referendum will be the Returning Officer for North Kesteven District Council
  • The poll may be combined with another election or referendum if the Counting Officer thinks fit.
  • An Information Statement and Specified Documents must be published not fewer than 28 days before the date on which the referendum will be held. The Information Statement is equivalent to a Notice of Election and the Specified Documents include the draft plan or order, the independent examiner’s report and various statements issued by North Kesteven District Council.
  • A referendum campaign may be conducted by a ‘campaign organiser’ to promote or procure a particular outcome in relation to the question being asked. Expenses incurred during such a campaign are limited. The limit is £2,362 plus £0.059 per elector on the relevant register.
  • Hours of poll are between 07.00 and 22.00.
  • Polling observers may be appointed and counting observers must be appointed.
  • A poll card must be sent to every eligible voter and proxy.
  • Those electors who have opted to vote by post or proxy in elections are entitled to do so at the referendum.
  • The counting of the votes must take place as soon as practicable after the close of poll and the date, time and location of the count must be advised to any counting observers in writing by the Counting Officer. The Counting Officer is not obliged to conduct the count on a Saturday or Sunday.
  • If more than 50% of those voting in the referendum have voted in favour of the plan, then North Kesteven District Council must bring the Plan into force