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Neighbourhood Planning Examinations and Referendums

Neighbourhood Planning Examinations

After you’ve submitted the draft Neighbourhood Plan Proposal to the Local Planning Authority, a check will be carried out by a Neighbourhood Planning Officer to establish whether the plan is technically compliant. This involves a brief test against the basic conditions and the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations before the consultation process is authorised by the Planning Portfolio Holder.

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A six week statutory consultation begins on the plan and supporting documents. The information is published on the Council’s website and hard copies are available to view in the nearest Information Service and library and in local facilities in the Neighbourhood Plan Area during the consultation period. 

The Neighbourhood Planning Team applies to the Neighbourhood Planning Independent Examiner Referral Service (NPIERS) to appoint an examiner for the Neighbourhood Development Plan.  The Council is given a shortlist of three independent examiners and liaises with the Town or Parish Council to agree the examiner to undertake the Examination of the Neighbourhood Plan.

Once the six week statutory consultation ends, the Neighbourhood Planning documents and the consultation responses are sent to the appointed independent examiner to begin the examination process.  The timescale for the examination process varies depending on each individual Neighbourhood Plan. If the Examiner considers that issues being raised warrant an informal hearing, the process will take longer. During the Examination, Cornwall Council liaises with the appointed independent examiner and keeps the town or parish council informed during the process.

The Examiner produces a draft examination report which is submitted to Cornwall Council to fact check liaising with the town or parish council before the document is finalised and can be published. Then Cornwall Council in consultation with the town or parish council make any necessary changes to the plan proposal as set out by the Examiner before the plan is signed off by the Portfolio Holder for Planning and can proceed to Referendum.

The Neighbourhood Development Plans that are currently at Examination or have been through the process are listed below.  



It is the responsibility of Cornwall Council to organise the referendum for a Neighbourhood Development Plan. The Council’s Electoral Services have to publish a ‘Notice of Referendum’ 25 working days before the day of the referendum. Neighbourhood Planning Referendums are conducted in accordance with procedures which are similar to those used at local government elections. The referendum must be in accordance with Schedule 3 and 5 (The Neighbourhood Planning Referendums) of the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations 2012. We have prepared a summary of the Referendum Regulations.

An Information Statement is published 28 working days before the date of the Referendum and copies of the Neighbourhood Planning documents are displayed at Cornwall Council One Stop Shops and libraries, and at local facilities in the Neighbourhood area for the general public to view. A document is prepared called ‘Information for Voters’ and this provides more information about the Referendum process. Voters living in the Neighbourhood area will receive a  poll card similar to those used at elections and this will provide details of when and where they can vote on the Neighbourhood Plan for their local area. 

There are three ways of voting:

  • In person at your local polling station
  • By post
  • By proxy

If more than 50% of people voting in the referendum support the plan or order, then the local planning authority must bring it into force. The Neighbourhood Development Plan once adopted will then become part of the Development Plan and Cornwall Council will use the plan to help to decide planning applications in the Parish.

When a referendum is due, more details will be published on the Current and Forthcoming Elections/Referendums page. The Neighbourhood Development Plans that have currently been through a Neighbourhood Planning Referendum are below. Please access the individual plans for more information.

Until further notice all Neighbourhood Plan Referendums are postponed. For further information see the press release All parish by-elections and neighbourhood plan referenda in Cornwall suspended until a later date.

Regulations linked to the Coronavirus Act 2020 mean that no elections or referendums can take place until 6 May 2021. This includes neighbourhood planning referendums. These provisions will be kept under review and may be amended or revoked in response to changing circumstances. 

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have updated the current planning guidance to set out that neighbourhood plans awaiting referendums can be given significant weight in decison-making.