Community Power

At RCCE, we believe that communities have the power to influence change.

We work with local communities to plan for their future, by supporting parish councils and community groups in the production of Community Led Plans.

The different types of Community Led Plan are:

  • Parish Plans
  • Neighbourhood Plans
  • Village Design Statements

These are explained below, and in a comparison grid at the foot of the page.

Our dedicated team of Community Engagement Officers can provide support by attending meetings, advising on funding and how to involve everyone in the project.  Information Packs are available to help you through the process.
We can also put you in touch with other communities who have completed Community Led Plans and shaped their own future. 

LATEST NEWS:  Networking Event - Introduction to Landscape Character Assessments 

Date:   Wednesday 26th June 2024

Location: RCCE Office, Threshelfords Business Park, Inworth Road,  Feering CO5 9SE

Time: 9:30am tea & coffee with a 10am start

Lewis Reynolds from landscape consultancy, Wynne Williams Associates, will be delivering a presentation to introduce the topic and how they can be used within Neighbourhood Plans to develop policies, guide site selections for possible development and identify Local Green Spaces.  The session will be free to RCCE

Members and a cost of £40 for Non Members - Click here for the full details.

We would need to restrict attendees to two per parish/group and as car parking is limited at our offices, we would strongly advocate car sharing as far as possible. If you’re interested in attending please email Nicky Joshua RCCE Community Engagement Officer: with details of attendees by end of Friday 21st June 2024.

What is a Parish Plan?

A Parish Plan determines the future of your community, and how it can change for the better.
It is a document that sets out a vision for the future of the parish and outlines how that can be achieved in an Action Plan.

The Parish Plan process may include:

  • A Village Appraisal – a household questionnaire to assess needs and aspirations of local people
  • Participatory Appraisals – hands-on interactive workshops
  • Business Surveys
  • Creation of an Action Plan

What is a Village Design Statement?

A Village Design Statement provides an opportunity for your community to describe how they feel the physical character of the parish can be enhanced.
It is a document that identifies what is special, unique and distinctive about the character of the parish.

It provides design guidance to influence change and improve the physical qualities of the area.

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

The Localism Act introduces a new right for a parish council or a neighbourhood forum to produce a ‘neighbourhood development plan’ setting out policies against which traditional planning applications could be judged. These policies could cover:

  • planning objectives for the neighbourhood;
  • the broad planning context (e.g. transport connections), local facilities, services;
  • key neighbourhood projects and infrastructure priorities;
  • development management policies on housing, economic development, environment;
  • site-specific policies on housing, economic development and environmental issues;
  • changes in the coverage of some planning designations.

(Source: Supporting Communities and Neighbourhoods in Planning Prospectus - Appendix 2)

Neighbourhood Planning initiatives will be additional to, and not a replacement for, the existing planning system in England. The plans will be allowed to accommodate more housing than proposed by the local authority’s development plan but they will not be able to provide for less. Provided a neighbourhood development plan is in line with national planning policy, with the strategic vision for the wider area set by the local authority, and with other legal requirements, local people will be able to vote on it in a referendum. If the plan is approved by a majority, then the local authority will bring it into force.


Parish Plan

Neighbourhood Plan

Design Statement


Assess current and future potential issues and set out an action plan to tackle the issues.

Assess physical (spatial) assets and set out what should be protected and where future development should go.

Assess character and set guidelines to influence what future development should look like.


A business plan for the community, adopted by the parish council to take forward in partnership with other organisations.

Part of the Local Development Framework evidence base (NOTE: Some local authorities have also approved as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications)

Part of the local authority development plan (subject to an independent examination and support by local referendum)

Might also result in a ‘Neighbourhood Development Order’ which (subject to an independent examination and support by local referendum) will set out development proposals without the need to seek planning permission.

Sits outside the local authority development plan as ‘a material consideration in the determination of planning applications’ or ‘planning guidance’ (subject to local authority approval)

Some authorities have adopted VDS as Supplementary Planning Documents to make them part of the Local Development Plan


Description of the services and facilities and their strengths and weaknesses.
Views and opinions on all matters affecting quality of life and aspirations for the future.
Action Plan outlining projects, timescale, costs and organisations involved.

Expected to include:
Audit of land use and infrastructure.
Views and opinion about local need and aspirations for conservation and development.
Policies on objectives for the area, infrastructure priorities, and a map outlining open space of community importance, assets of community value and locations for development.

Assessment of the character of the built and natural environment.
Views and opinion about various elements of character and aspirations for the future.
Guidelines about the design of future development (including an attempt to influence permitted development).

For more information contact the

Resources are available in the Members Area

For more information, call 01376 574330 or contact Sarah Sapsford