Back in 2013, we highlighted the first Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO) – made to permit specified development without further permission – under the Localism Act 2011 regime, in Cockermouth. In the five years since, however, only two other NDOs have been made (and the Cockermouth NDO expired in 2017).
Following that hiatus, the first NDO to authorise residential development has now been made. Kettering Borough Council made the Broughton Neighbourhood Development Order, along with the Broughton Neighbourhood Plan, on 17 October 2018. The NDO, approved by a 93% “yes” vote at the September 2018 referendum, permits the redevelopment of a BT exchange to provide between 5 and 7 dwellings, each with one or two bedrooms, aimed at younger people, single occupancy or older people downsizing. The NDO identifies the site as a valuable strategic site, to deliver smaller properties to meet local needs, replacing a currently unattractive building adjacent to a conservation area.
Previous NDOs permitted changes of use, and works to shop fronts and windows in Cockermouth, which has now expired, and the reinstatement and extension of a single dwelling in the Yorkshire Dales.
Brought forward alongside a Neighbourhood Plan, the Broughton NDO is a sensible step for the community in encouraging the type of development they wish to see when the site comes forward for redevelopment, alongside an allocation in the neighbourhood plan. It remains to be seen whether this will prove to be a sufficient incentive for this development to come forward within the lifespan of the NDO.
It also highlights the very limited number of communities who have taken forward the opportunity to develop NDOs. As with Neighbourhood Plans, the time and expertise involved in preparing an NDO is considerable – the Broughton neighbourhood group first applied for designation in 2013. While the Localism Act has provided opportunities for communities to have a greater say in the development of their local area, the practical difficulties limit the opportunities for communities to take forward those opportunities. Given limited Parliamentary time available, it seems unlikely that this will be resolved, notwithstanding the continuing political lipservice to localism.