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Planning your neighbourhood

Support local residents grow food in a specific neighbourhood

In this section we will look at one of the ways residents in a neighbourhood can encourage food growing.

Since the Localism Act 2011, communities in England can work together on a neighbourhood plan containing planning policies specific to that area for the development and use of land. This includes influence over green space. Neighbourhood Development Plans will become part of the Local Plan and the policies will be used in the determination of planning applications.

If this is all new to you we suggest you go to the Getting started page first.

Will Neighbourhood planning work for community food growing?

Neighbourhood Planning is a bottom-up approach to plan making driven by the community. It can help fill gaps in borough-wide planning policies on issues of interest to local people. Neighbourhood planning offers the chance for the local community to say how it wants new development to be designed in more detail than is possible in authority-wide plans. Residents can decide that new development should provide community food growing spaces and/or space for temporary gardens and that existing spaces should be protected.

Ellie from Food Newcastle attended a Planning Advisory Service workshop on neighbourhood planning. She thinks this level of planning could be useful for Sustainable Food Cities. “If there are groups drawing up Neighbourhood Plans in cities with a Sustainable Food City partnership then it would be great if the food partnership could encourage the plan team to consider including technical specifications that relate to food.”

Durham County Council has been working with Parish Councils interested in Neighbourhood Planning. This presentation raises awareness of the opportunities for neighbourhood plans to address health issues.

A neighbourhood forum has been designated for the Chatsworth Road area in Sustainable Food Place, Hackney. The forum’s aspirations included – a neighbourhood “with places to grow our own food”. At the time,Hackney did not have specific policies for food growing in their Borough-wide policies. So, it was up to the neighbourhood forum to be more forthright in their neighbourhood plan.

Chatsworth Road neighbourhood forum could think about planning policies which seek provision for community food growing in new development, support new food growing spaces in existing localities and identify, on the proposals map, community food growing spaces to be protected. As part of their evidence base they can use a map showing current food growing spaces registered with Capital Growth plotted on the Capital Growth website. This provides a good starting point for the Forum to see what current level of activity there is. They could also encourage other spaces to register with Capital Growth so that a true picture is gained.

Their draft vision: 
“There is provision for community food growing in new developments, support for new food growing spaces in existing localities and community food growing spaces on the proposals map are to be protected, including Daubeney Road Garages and Amenity Grassland on the Jack Dunning, Clapton Park and Bannister House estates and the Clifden/Dunlace block.”

“Why? To improve resiliency of the community by bringing people together to grow their own food, to promote physical and mental health and to reduce the eco-footprint of food in Hackney”.

Are there any examples?

A growing number of neighbourhood plans have been agreed following a local referendum. We have heard of two in Devon that have included community food growing.

The Exeter St James Neighbourhood Plan includes reference to community food growing in a list of expectations for development in the area.

The Dawlish Neighbourhood Plan 2012 includes an action for “productive homes, buildings and communities”. They want to see all new developments and homes having ready-to-grow spaces as well as shared growing areas.

Dawlish Neighbourhood Plan

Para 10.3 Productive homes, buildings and communities.

Planning for food and promoting and developing a culture and opportunities for growing food.

As well as identifying places for growing food, to address the issue of food security, encourage all new developments and homes to have ready-to-grow spaces as well as shared growing areas. This will enable residents to produce food in a sustainable way.

Encourage space for growing food within the grounds of existing schools.

Encourage all social landlords to allocate space for growing food.

Help for communities

The main source of support is from Locality.

Locality commissioned a comprehensive guide to writing planning policies. Containing real world neighbourhood plan examples and worksheets, the guide takes a step-by-step process to writing planning policies for a neighbourhood plan.

Cornwall Council’s Neighbourhood Planning Toolkit is intended to help communities decide whether to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan and sets out what steps should be followed to prepare a plan that reflects what the community wants to achieve. They advise that the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan should be interesting and enjoyable and should help to bring the community together.

Evidence: There is a wealth of data available online (e.g. population, levels of deprivation) to help neighbourhood plan groups get an idea of the issues affecting their areas.

The simplest to use is from the Office for National Statistics. Put in your postcode to get a full breakdown of national statistics including deprivation and health statistics.  Good for a quick reference to obesity levels etc.  

Local Insight is a community mapping and reporting tool that groups can use to get up-to-date open data and analysis matched to the areas that are relevant to them. This tool can help areas develop a robust evidence base on local issues, helping to develop a successful neighbourhood plan.

Designate community gardens as Local Green Space

Open Spaces Society has published an open spaces tool-kit for communities to protect their green spaces. They want it to be easier to designate land as Local Green Space (LGS) or to list open spaces as community assets. The tool-kit consists of three handbooks:

CPRE conducted a study of the impact of the Local Green Space designation, which allows local people to protect places of special value to the community including food growing spaces.

Go to Making It Happen section to monitor planning applications to make sure guidance is being used.

Planning Food Cities: Find out how to get involved shaping the future of your local area to create a more sustainable and local food system.

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