Two district councils are to receive Government funding to help them encourage people to engage in the planning system.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have been selected for two pilot schemes aimed at getting more people in urban and more deprived areas to shape the development of their area.

The pilots are encouraging communities to produce a Neighbourhood Plan.

This gives communities power to choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built, what these new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided.

This must be used by a local authority when determining planning applications.

Despite the benefits of creating a Neighbourhood Plan, currently less than 7 per cent of existing plans are in the most deprived areas and only 5 per cent are in urban areas.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has allocated up to £45,000 to seven areas as part of its Simpler Approach to Neighbourhood Planning pilot.

It has also awarded up to £50,000 to four councils for local planning authorities in poorer areas.

Housing Minister Christopher Pincher said: “Local people know their areas best and by getting involved in neighbourhood planning, they can properly influence future development in their communities.

“Through these pilots, we are giving more people, and particularly those from under-represented areas, the tools they need to influence decisions that affect their lives.”

Over 1,200 communities across England have completed a Neighbourhood Plan, and more than 2,800 have started the neighbourhood planning process.

They have been used by communities to encourage the delivery of affordable housing, homes for older people and young families, and for the conservation of green areas, the Government said.