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The local parish or town council will lead on neighbourhood planning in their areas. Where one does not exist then a community group known as a neighbourhood forum needs to be established to lead.

The Localism Act recognises that not all communities are residential in nature and in areas that are predominantly commercial then a business-led neighbourhood forum can be established.

The Local Planning Authority is involved and will make decisions at key stages of the process, such as approving the neighbourhood area within which the Neighbourhood Plan will have effect. It will also organise the independent examination of the plan and the community referendum that is held at the end of the process.

The referendum is an important part of the process allowing those that live in the neighbourhood area to decide whether or not the Neighbourhood Development Plan, Neighbourhood Development Order or Community Right to Build Order comes into effect or not. This is direct democracy and outlines the importance of working with the wider community and securing their support at an early stage in the process.

For a step-by-step guide to the neighbourhood planning read the Roadmap on the Locality Neighbourhood Planning website.

See also the Guidance to Service Users and Examiners produced by NPIERS (Neighbourhood Planning Independent Examiner Referral Service).