The Neighbourhood Planning Process

Charmouth Beach
Charmouth Seafront

The Neighbourhood Plan is a community-led plan to help guide future development, regeneration and conservation of an area.

It is about the use and development of land and can contain proposals for new facilities, improvement and may allocate land for different types of development.

It can deal with housing, employment, transport, heritage and the natural environment. Once approved, the Neighbourhood Plan will be used to help make decisions on future planning applications.

A local Neighbourhood Planning Committee has been set up to develop the plan & ensure that it is ‘community-led’.

Organisations and interests on the Charmouth Group include:

  • The Parish Council
  • Local people
  • Environmental Interests
  • Those interested in local business & improvement

The Process

The Initial Stages

Planning and Funding

Dorset Council has agreed to the plan being prepared for the designated area (Charmouth Parish) after a consultation period and so it is officially recognised.  

Grants can be obtained from a nationally funded programme operated by the Department of Communities & Local Government and distributed by an organisation called ‘Locality’. The Planning Committee plan to bid for funding to help prepare the Plan over the coming years. 


The proposal to prepare the Plan was publicised locally to ensure local people were aware that the Plan was to be prepared.

Consultation events are now being planned and the results will be analysed and used to help influence the Plan. Based on what the community says, the Vision & Objectives will be developed, with further consultation events being held, as the plan progresses through its various stages, over a period of time.

Where The Plan Is Now

A comprehensive village survey of residents and businesses was undertaken and the results were analysed and reports produced. An Open Forum was held in March 2018 to communicate the outcome of the survey to the local community.

Based upon the evidence gained from the village survey, professional reports and historical documents, draft objectives and policies for CNP have been produced. Consultation with Dorset Council's Planning Department and the local Parish Council on these draft policies has occurred.

An Open Forum was held in January 2019 to present the draft objectives and policies and to obtain feedback from residents. Since our Open Forum event in January, the Steering Group have been focused on developing the policies for the Plan based upon the vision, objectives and evidence gathered. We have consulted with the Parish Council, Dorset Council and a professional planning consultant on the wording of these policies, ensuring compliance with both national policy and strategic local policy. There are currently 22 draft policies in the Plan covering natural environment, housing, economy, getting around, assets and amenities, heritage and history and coastal change and flooding.  A draft CNP will be put together for public consultation in Spring 2020.        

Future Steps

Bringing the Plan Forwards

Development of the Draft

The Vision and Objectives for the Plan will be stated along with supporting policies for: Heritage & History, Assets & Amenities, Natural Environment, Local Economy, Housing, Getting Around and Coastal Defences.

Before the Plan is formally submitted to Dorset Council, a 6 week statutory round of consultation with the local community and official organisations will take place, called ‘Regulation 14’ Consultation. 

Submission To The Council

Following this and any changes, the Plan will be submitted to the Dorset Council who will arrange for further consultation and then for the Neighbourhood Plan to be ‘Examined’ by an independent planning inspector, who will assess whether or not it meets all the necessary requirements and regulations. The Examiner may well propose modifications to the Plan. If these are required, then they will also be subject to consultation.


Once the Plan has been examined and found to be acceptable, with or without modifications, there will be a Referendum, when all registered electors in the Parish will be eligible to vote on the Plan.

Provided more than 50% of those who vote, support the Plan, the Local Planning Authority will bring it into force and the Plan will be ‘Made’.


Development of the Draft

Once the Neighbourhood Plan is brought into legal force, it will form part of the Statutory Development Plan for the Parish, along with the Local Plan.

Decisions on whether or not to grant planning permission in the Plan area will need to be in accordance with the Plan unless ‘material planning considerations’ indicate otherwise.

Proposals for improvements in the area can be included as an Action Plan, appended to the Neighbourhood Plan. These will subject to funding and could be implemented in the coming years, by a number of organisations.

Clearly the Preparation of the Charmouth Neighbourhood Plan is a significant piece of work which will take some time to complete!

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