Parish plans were originally introduced by the Countryside Agency as part of the vital villages initiative. We are now promoting and directing resources to the neighbourhood plan initiative but we will continue to recognise the important role parish plans can play in planning for the future and improving residents' quality of life. Parish plans are often used as a key source of evidence for neighbourhood plans (which can have statutory weight in the planning system) and communities continue to produce them as useful reference documents for the parish council and partner bodies.

Parish plans are intended to take a holistic view of village life and differ from village design statements which are far narrower in their remit and focus on the quality of the built environment.

If the parish plan is endorsed by us (and other bodies identified as partners such as the local education authority, highways authority, residents groups, businesses, interest groups ) it will be used in decision-making and may form a material consideration in considering planning applications.

The best parish plans incorporate an 'action plan' which sets out succinctly the issues of most concern to the local community, identifies actions to address those issues, the main body (and any partner bodies) responsible for their implementation and the time scale within which implementation is sought. It is envisaged that the parish council will take responsibility for overseeing implementation of the actions and will hold the relevant body accountable if progress is not made. Action plans can be reviewed and updated at the annual general meeting.

The Countryside Agency no longer produce their guidance to parish councils, however, those communities who would like to produce or update a parish plan can still download it below:

Guidance to parish councils