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Reviewing a neighbourhood development plan

There is no requirement to review a neighbourhood development plan (NDP) after it has been “made”. However, We recommend that qualifying bodies (QBs) monitor how their NDP has been used in decision making to see how effective its policies are.

QBs should consider the need for a review if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • Changes to national planning legislation, policy or guidance
  • Adoption of a new local plan for West Northamptonshire or relevant part thereof
  • Policies have achieved what they set out to do and are no longer needed
  • Policies in the NDP are not being used as intended in decision making
  • New evidence means that a policy needs to change or a new policy is needed

Locality has produced a toolkit with detailed information on implementing, monitoring and reviewing made NDPs.

This step-by-step guide provides specific information for qualifying bodies (QBs) in West Northamptonshire. We encourage QBs considering a review to contact the Planning Policy Team for advice.

Review step 1: Assess the need for modifications

QBs should undertake the following tasks to understand if their NDP should be reviewed. This will also give them an idea of the types of modifications (also referred to here as changes) that would be needed.

1A. Screen against Part 2 Local Plan

Assess each policy against the relevant Part 2 Local Plan for the neighbourhood area, this will be either the Daventry, Northampton or South area Local Plan. Consider whether the NDP policies are consistent with Local Plan policies, if there is an inconsistency or conflict, the NDP policy would need changing. 

1B. Screen against the National Planning Policy Framework

Assess each policy against the latest version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). There have been some updates since 2019, references may therefore be out-of-date and need changing.

1C. Consider the evidence

NDP policies are based on a wide range of evidence. Evidence may have been updated or there may be new evidence since the NDP was made, which could mean that policies are out-of-date or that a new policy is desirable. Examples of evidence include the 2021 Census, Council produced housing needs surveys (valid for 3 years) and conservation area appraisals and management plans.

1D. Monitoring and other changes

Monitoring how the NDP policies are used will help to understand if they are being used as intended. They may not be effective in influencing decisions or a more recently adopted Part 2 Local Plan policy is used instead. This could mean that changes are needed to how the policy is written.

A policy may have achieved what it set out to do, such as allocate a site for housing or a community use which has since been built. In this case, the policy will not be needed any more.

Decide what policy changes are needed and how they could be drafted. The changes and reasons for them under 1A, 1B, 1C and 1D should be set out in a table. The Planning Policy Team can advise.

Review step 2: Identify the type of review 

The amount of work involved in a review depends on the type and whether the modifications change the nature of the plan. There are three types of review: 

  • Minor (non-material) modifications which do not materially affect the policies in the plan, which include correcting errors, would not require examination or referendum
  • Material modifications which do not change the nature of the plan would require examination but not a referendum. This might include the addition of a design code that builds on a pre-existing design policy, or a new site or sites which, subject to the decision of the independent examiner, are not so significant or substantial to change the nature of the plan
  • Material modifications which do change the nature of the plan would require examination and a referendum. This might include a significant new site allocation

Minor (non-material) modifications are precisely that, they include correcting errors and small updates. Anything more significant will be material and as a result, will take longer because the NDP will be subject to two rounds of formal consultation and examination.

The type and scale of changes identified in Step 1 should indicate the type of review required. At this point it is a good idea for the QB to share their progress with the Planning Policy Team.

Review step 3: Undertake the review

Minor modifications

The QB should produce two versions of the review NDP (in an accessible format) which include changes to policies and the supporting text:

  • Tracked changes version of the review NDP
  • Clean version of the review NDP

The QB should submit these to us with:

  • Tables setting out the policy changes and reasons
  • Covering letter or email to say that the QB considers the review to be minor (non-material)

We will issue a decision letter and statement of modifications and will publish the made review NDP. This will replace the original NDP and be part of the development plan.

Material modifications

Where modifications are more significant, the QB should submit the following to us:

  1. Tracked changes version of the review NDP
  2. Clean version of the review NDP
  3. Tables setting out the policy changes and reasons, ideally presented as a statement of modifications
  4. Covering letter or email with the QB’s opinion on whether or not the material modifications change the nature of the plan

We will issue a decision letter which will confirm whether it agrees with the type of material modification.

The review will then follow the same steps as a first NDP. The Council will undertake the strategic environmental assessment/Habitats Regulations Assessment (SEA/HRA) and the pre-submission (Regulation 14) consultation.

When the QB submits the review NDP to us for Regulation 16 consultation, we will publish a statement of modifications setting out in full the sequence of events to date. We will publish this alongside the submission documents.

At the start of the examination the independent examiner will provide an opinion on the nature of the material modifications (see review step 2). This will determine whether the NDP requires a referendum.

Our Planning Policy Committee will make a decision on the examiner’s report. If the examiner does not consider that the NDP requires a referendum, we will “make” the review NDP at the same meeting. This will replace the original NDP and form part of the development plan.

If the examiner considers that the NDP requires a referendum, the process will be the same as a first NDP. If the majority of the eligible voters vote in favour of the review NDP, it will be made, replace the original NDP and form part of the development plan.

Useful information


Any NDP, including those that are being reviewed, together with tables of modifications, evidence base documents etc will need to accessible.

Documents will need to meet the requirements of the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

This includes do’s and don't's such as:

  • Left justification of all text (not fully justified)
  • Avoidance of italics and underlining, bold is fine
  • Titles for all maps, photos, charts, etc and alternative text for the same e.g. "map showing neighbourhood area", "policies map showing designations". If the Parish Council logo features in the document, it needs alternative text e.g. "full colour logo for decorative purposes" etc.
  • On tables, using header rows and alternative text to describe what the table shows

Full guidelines on accessibility can be found on the Gov.UK website.

Contact details

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 0300 126 7000

Last updated 22 September 2023