The cut-off date for the latest round of applications for grant money under the Neighbourhood Planning Front Runners scheme closed on Friday.
The government grants of up to £20,000 apiece are available to local authorities to research "how the provisions for neighbourhood planning are likely to work in practice following commencement of the Localism Bill."
Councils awarded funding will, said the Department for Communities and Local Government, "be expected to undertake a planning project in close collaboration with an established community group or parish council in a manner similar to that envisaged in the Localism Bill, or, in business areas, with a local business organisation."
The Localism Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent in late 2011.
Three rounds of front runners have been announced so far with 90 community groups awarded grants. These include three in Cheshire East – Congleton, Middlewich and Sandbach – two in Wirral, Hoylake Village and Devonshire Park, Birkenhead, Cockermouth in Cumbria, Tattenhall & District in west Cheshire, Forest Park in St Helens and Coniston & Torver in the Lake District.
DCLG said: "In areas predominantly occupied by business premises including, for example, town centres or commercial districts local planning authorities may undertake projects that are proposed and taken forward by a local business organisation. In these cases, the residential community within the area concerned would be expected also to be engaged with the project.
"Further, the local business organisation will be required to make a contribution to the costs of the project which would be additional to any grant offered by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
"The schemes taken forward under the auspices of the Neighbourhood Planning Front Runners scheme may vary in their scope and complexity, or in the size of the area covered. The proposals should ideally involve one or more of the following and relate to part of a local planning authority's area:
- a development plan document and/or
- a local development order under section 61A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
"Grant recipients will be expected to:
- provide the parish council/community group with reasonable guidance and technical assistance to facilitate their preparation of a plan or order and
- appoint a suitably qualified professional to undertake an independent examination of any proposed planning document"
The closing dates for next round is 5pm on Friday 4 November 2011.