Surrey Heath Borough Council support for Neighbourhood Planning

Neighbourhood plans enable communities to prepare planning policies to guide future development in a local area. Neighbourhood plans can also include site allocations.

Once adopted neighbourhood plans become part of the development plan and the policies contained within them are then used in the determination of planning applications.

How does Neighbourhood Planning work?

The process of preparing a neighbourhood plan must follow certain prescribed steps. This process includes formal designation of a ‘neighbourhood area’, consultation with the local community, consideration of the Plan by an independent examiner and a public referendum. 

Neighbourhood plans cannot block development that is already part of the Local Plan and must:

  • Have regard to national policies and advice, such as the National Planning Policy Framework;
  • Contribute to the achievement of sustainable development;
  • Be in general conformity with the strategic policies in the development plan for Surrey Heath Borough;
  • Be compatible with European obligations and human rights requirements.

For more information, please see A summary of the neighbourhood plan process and the role of the local community

Neighbourhood Planning Support

Grant funding and some technical support is available from the government for communities wanting to prepare neighbourhood plans. For information on the support available please visit

Surrey Heath Borough Council can provide a range of support (see table at the bottom of the page) for those preparing neighbourhood plans as well as having a statutory responsibility to organise the neighbourhood plan examination and the public referendum.

Support that is available from Surrey County Council to those preparing neighbourhood plans is set out in the neighbourhood planning guide.

Further Advice

There are a range of organisations that provide detailed advice on the preparation of neighbourhood plans:

For further advice on neighbourhood plans please contact Planning Policy at

Surrey Heath's role in neighbourhood planning
Local planning authorities are required to help communities in the process of preparing a neighbourhood development plan, but the plan-making process itself must be community led. The support that the Borough Council can provide to local communities is set out in the adopted Statement of Community Involvement, 2020 available at the Other Planning Documents page and reproduced below. (Referral Service).
Surrey Heath Borough Council has a statutory role in the preparation of neighbourhood plans as follows:
  • Designating the neighbourhood area and neighbourhood forum;
  • Publicising the submitted neighbourhood plan;
  • Arranging and funding the examination;
  • Publicising the examiner’s report and plan proposal decision;
  • Arranging and funding the referendum;
  • Adopting the Plan.

Steps in preparing a Neighbourhood Plan and Borough Council support

Stage Surrey Heath Borough Council Support
Designation as a Neighbourhood Area/Neighbourhood Forum
  • Advise as to the information required to submit an application for designation as a Neighbourhood Area or Neighbourhood Forum;
  • Carry out any relevant consultation;
  • Determine the outcome of the application and advise the Qualifying Body (Town or Parish Council or designated Neighbourhood Forum) accordingly.
Evidence to support the neighbourhood plan
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA)
  • Undertake an SEA and HRA Screening for the neighbourhood plan. If full assessments are required this is the responsibility of the Qualifying body. 
  • Provide a list of Strategic development policies
  • Advise on the statutory process for pre-submission
  • Provide a contact list for statutory consultees as defined in Schedule 1 of The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 (as amended);
  • Provide comments and advice on specific issues proposed within a NP where officer resources are available, where there is a direct link with the emerging Local Plan, and where there are issues likely to affect meeting the Basic Conditions;
  • Provide a high level review of a fully drafted (or close to fully drafted) Plan prior to formal consultation where officer resources are available; and,
  • Provide a formal response to the Pre-Submission Consultation.
Submission and Examination
Upon Submission of the Neighbourhood Plan to Surrey Heath, the Council will:
  • Undertake a review to ensure that the Submitted Neighbourhood Plan complies with all the statutory requirements;
  • Confirm in writing to the Qualifying Body whether the Plan meets these requirements;
  • Undertake statutory consultation on the Submission NP for a minimum of 6 weeks;
  • Notify consultation bodies identified in the Consultation Statement; and,
  • Provide a formal response to the Submission Plan as part of the consultation process.
In relation to independent Examination of the Plan, the Council will:
  • Appoint, and fund an Examiner for the Plan in discussion with the relevant Qualifying Body;
  • Produce a summary of representations from the Submission consultation to be sent to the Examiner and to the Qualifying Body and placed on the website;
  • Communicate examination timetables and progress with the Qualifying Body;
  • Discuss the independent Examiners Report on the NP with the Qualifying Body;
  • Consider at Executive the Examiners recommendations and make a decision as to whether to proceed to referendum;
  • Amend the Plan in line with the Examiners Report in conjunction with the Qualifying Body; and,
  • Issue a Decision Statement setting out its reasons for accepting or otherwise the Examiners modifications.
  • Liaise with the Qualifying Body on the Referendum date (which will be subject to resources and workloads of the Elections team);
  • Organise, fund and run the local referendum.
  • Assuming a positive referendum result , adopt the Neighbourhood Plan as part of the Surrey Heath Development Plan. 
  • Assuming a positive referendum result , adopt the Neighbourhood Plan as part of the Surrey Heath Development Plan.