Statement of Community Involvement
We want to involve more residents, businesses, community groups, and other stakeholders in planning matters. On 12 February 2020 the Council adopted a new Statement of Community Involvement (SCI). This document was consulted from 30 September to 11 November 2019.
SCI sets out principles of engagement, consultation techniques and details of how residents and stakeholders can get involved in all aspects of planning. It seeks to make it quicker, easier and more accessible to have your say in the planning process.
The adopted SCI along with the consultation responses, including those received through the digital platform Built-ID, and an Equalities Impact Assessment can be found below.
Addendum to the Statement of Community Involvement
An Addendum to the Statement of Community Involvement sets out the changes to the Council’s approach made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions. It is intended to reflect the social distancing and other measures which must be in place during the pandemic but also to allow for proper planning functions to continue. The need for these temporary measures will be kept under review. The Addendum should be read alongside the adopted Statement of Community Involvement (February 2020).
Addendum to the Statement of Community Involvement (2021)
- The Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) is a document which sets out how and when the Council will consult with and involve the community and other stakeholders in planning matters including in the preparation of the Local Plan, its supporting documents and in the planning application process.
- The Council’s current SCI was adopted in February 2020 following consultation in September – November 2019 and can be accessed on our website
- Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Government published amendments to Town and Country Planning Regulations in May 2020 and in December 2020 . The National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) on local plan-making and public engagement has also been updated to include paragraphs 76-82 and recommends that Local Authorities review and update their SCI and incorporate temporary changes that would help to prevent the spread of the disease, but allow the process of plan-making to continue.
- NPPG paragraph 77 states that, “Where any policies in the Statement of Community Involvement cannot be complied with due to current guidance to help combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the local planning authority is encouraged to undertake an immediate review and update the policies where necessary so that plan-making can continue.”
- Therefore, as we are working to produce a New Local Plan, this addendum sets out temporary changes regarding the Council’s approach to community engagement particularly plan-making as well as other planning policy documents. The proposed amendments are temporary while required and supported by national legislation. The Council will revert back to the original version of the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) (February 2020) or produce a further addendum to track national legislation when the threat of spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has passed. This document should be read alongside the SCI.
2. Changes required which are relevant to planning policy matters
- Availability of hard copy documents (Local Plan and Supplementary Planning Documents)
Section 5 of the SCI sets out how we will consult on the Local Plan and other policy documents. Paragraph 5.8 (first bullet) states that, “consultation materials will be made available at the Town Hall, on our website and local libraries”. Other references to this commitment are made in Figure 4, and Paragraphs 5.11 and 5.28 of the SCI. However, at this time, during the pandemic we are not able to make documents available in hard copy at these locations. Therefore, in-line with the legislative changes referred to above, the following temporary solutions are proposed:
- Planning Policy documents will continue to be available on-line via our website. This includes consultation materials for the preparation of Local Plan and Supplementary Planning Documents.
- Where access to documents on-line is not possible, the Planning Policy Team can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 361 3012 in order to request a hard copy of the relevant documents by post. We will aim to provide hard copies by post if possible although the legislative changes specifically remove this requirement. In any event we will be able to discuss and explain the policies subject to the consultation.
- When the Council offices and local libraries re-open fully, subject to government guidance and if it is safe to do so, documents will be placed in these locations for public inspection. This will be communicated in consultation material. These documents will need to be accessed in a manner which accords with the Council’s wider policies and procedures for ensuring the safety of visitors to council offices and other relevant premises.
- Hard copies of the adopted Planning documents will remain available (at cost), from the Planning Policy Team.
- Face-to-Face meetings, workshops and focus groups
The Council values the views of consultees, residents, interest groups and other stakeholders when developing planning policies. Traditional forms of early engagement in planning, such as events, workshops and drop in sessions are invaluable to gain a local perspective and community input on shaping future development. The Council has identified face-to-face meetings, open access events and site visits as appropriate consultation techniques in Figures 5, 6 and Paragraphs 5.20, 5.29, 5.30, 5.58, 5.60 of the SCI. Due to the government restrictions associated with preventing the spread of COVID-19, the Council is restricted in its ability to hold face-to-face meetings, workshops, focus groups or exhibitions. This is to protect the health of our communities and staff. Therefore, in-line with the latest government and public health advice, the following temporary solutions are proposed:
- The Council will seek to provide alternative methods of public engagement by utilising digital technologies, such as online polls, virtual presentations, video conferencing and on-line exhibitions.
- Where on-line platforms are not suitable or cannot be used by specific groups, the Council will use other approaches including telephone calls to engage with stakeholders.
- Neighbourhood planning
The Council will continue to support the creation of neighbourhood plans in the Borough, while complying with the Government guidance on neighbourhood planning which has recently been updated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Revised guidance in respect of Neighbourhood Planning can be accessed on our website.
- The guidance states that all neighbourhood planning referendums are postponed until May 2021. This will be kept under review.
- At present the Council is not aware of the production of any new Neighbourhood Plan in the Borough. However, in the event work starts on a Neighbourhood Plan, the Council will support those who are producing it and advise on suitable approaches to public consultation that would comply with government restrictions. The Council will ensure that any relevant documents can be accessed on-line to view.
3. Changes to planning advice provision and decision-making process
- Restrictions on movement and social distancing measures have had an impact on the planning advice service and decision-making process. Following the latest government and public health advice, in order to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, we have taken the decision to temporarily change how decisions are made and how we deliver our planning advice service. We are continually adapting to the changing guidance and update our website to reflect how we are delivering these services.
Details on the preliminary consultation on the SCI and the previous SCI (Involving People in Planning) are available on the Archived Statement of Community Involvement page.