Through the Localism Act in 2011, the government has given communities the right to prepare a Neighbourhood Development Plan (normally referred to as just 'Neighbourhood Plan').
These plans are intended to enable communities to have more say in guiding future development within their areas.
Neighbourhood Plans can be prepared by a town or parish council, or, when neither of these is present, a Neighbourhood Forum can be set up.
A Neighbourhood Plan will need to go through a formal examination process, before a referendum is held in the Neighbourhood Area. If the community vote for the plan, it will be formally adopted by the council as part of the Development Plan and used in the decision making process.
Further advice can be found on the My Community website, the National Planning Policy Framework, Planning Aid England, Royal Town Planning Institute, Neighbourhood planning website and the Planning advisory service.