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Government announces £9.5m neighbourhood planning fund

A new two-year programme will allow local resident groups to bid for support from a £9.5 million fund to help them develop neighbourhood plans, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced.15 Mar 2013

Under the programme, groups of residents seeking to make proposals for a neighbourhood plan can submit bids for funding of up to £7,000 to go towards the cost of preparing the plan.

The programme will be delivered by community network group Locality in partnership with the Royal Town Planning Institute, Planning Aid England, the Community Development Foundation, Urban Vision Enterprise, Eden Project and URS.

The announcement follows the approval of the country's first neighbourhood plan in a referendum in Upper Eden last week, with over 90% of votes in favour. The DCLG said that there are more than 500 communities across England making use of the neighbourhood planning powers introduced by the Localism Act in 2011.

"This Government is all about giving power back to people locally to allow them to shape their community, and these powers are kicking in," said Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Don Foster in a statement.

"We’ve already seen overwhelming support for the first neighbourhood plan in Upper Eden and there is real appetite in hundreds of communities across the country to follow suit. This funding will provide practical help to people to make neighbourhood plans a reality in their community," Foster said.

“We’re delighted to be awarded the neighbourhood planning contract to provide support to communities across the country wanting to transform their local area," Locality CEO Steve Wyler said in a statement.

“Locality has experience of working with pioneering groups to design their own neighbourhood plans. This is an exciting opportunity, with guidance and grants enabling many more people to design their own environments and create sustainable solutions which meet the needs of those who live there,” Wyler said.

The DCLG said it would release full details of the programme on 15 April and that bids for funding can be submitted from 1 May.