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Statement of Community Involvement

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What is a Statement of Community Involvement (SCI)?

The SCI is an important part of the Local Development Plan. It sets out how we will engage with our community in the planning process.

We aspire that the community can be involved in the planning of the environment through the
preparation of planning policy documents and in processing planning applications.

What is the aim of the SCI?

The main aims of the SCI are to encourage the community to:

  • access information
  • contribute to ideas
  • take an active part in developing proposals and options
  • be consulted and make representations on formal proposals
  • be informed about progress and outcomes

This document seeks to explain what that involvement will be and what stakeholders and the
community can reasonably expect.

The SCI needs to be updated every five years.

The revised SCI reflects lessons learnt from the previous one and the earlier phases of involvement in the Local Plan, looks at changing resources and practices and the changing ways of using technology and social media platforms since the adopted SCI (2006).

How to use the Statement of Community Involvement document

Opportunities for community involvement in the planning process usually occur in two distinct areas:

  • During the preparation of Local and Neighbourhood Plans.
  • Individual planning applications and pre-application advice.

Different regulations and procedures apply to these two areas and the remainder of the document is structured to reflect this.

Role of Councillors

Councillors have an important role within the planning system, as both decision makers and as
community representatives.

The general public can make their views known to their local Parish Councillors, ward Councillors, who can make representations on their behalf. Councillors are a vital link between the local community and the Council.

City Councillors also make decisions on planning issues, such as adopting Planning Policy documents and in deciding planning applications.

Equality and human rights impact assessment (EHRIA)

In addition to the requirements of the Planning Regulations, we will also consult with the Inclusion Reference Group Members. Completing an EHRIA evidences that we meet and go beyond the legislative requirements of the Equality Act 2010, specifically the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Additionally it supports the Achieving Preston Priorities, particularly around fairness and social
justice. 

Fairness for you

  • Fairness at the heart of decision making
  • An economy supporting prosperity and promoting fairness in working lives and practices
  • Accessibility to affordable energy and decent affordable homes
  • Achieving Preston Priorities

Your City

  • Secure investment
  • Improve assets and infrastructure
  • Attract high quality jobs

Your Council

  • Well run, value for money services
  • Good governance openness and transparency
  • Strong democratic process

Planning Policy

Planning policy is used by planners assessing planning applications, and others with influence over investment, to guide decision-making in a consistent manner.

This is to ensure that it contributes to delivering the Council's strategic objectives or vision for the future in the most effective way possible. The most important component of local planning policy is the Local Plan, which includes several parts: The Core Strategy and the Local Plan Policies Map.

In addition, planning policy includes Supplementary Planning Documents, the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Charging Schedule and any Neighbourhood Plans produced locally.

The National Planning Policy Framework encourages early and meaningful engagement and collaboration with neighbourhoods, local organisations and businesses is essential.

A wide section of the community should be proactively engaged, so that Local Plans, as far as possible, reflect a collective vision and a set of agreed priorities for the sustainable development of the area.

Consultation

When undertaking any formal consultation or formal adoption of a document, we will ensure that the most up to date Planning Regulations are complied with.

As a minimum consultation will include:

  • Preparation of the Local Plan - minimum 6 weeks consultation
  • Publication of a Local Plan - minimum 6 weeks consultation
  • Advertise the Submission of Local Plan
  • Supplementary Planning Documents - minimum 4 weeks consultation
  • Defining the Neighbourhood Area - minimum 6 weeks consultation
  • Draft Neighbourhood Plan - minimum 6 weeks consultation
  • Advertise the Submission of Neighbourhood Plan - minimum 6 weeks consultation.

Any consultation will be publicised as widely as possible to allow as many people, organisations, businesses and interest groups as possible, an opportunity to be involved.

There is also a range of organisations that we have a statutory duty to consult. These organisations include Councils, infrastructure providers and government bodies.

We have a duty to co-operate with a number of organisations. We are required to engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis with these organisations.

Do you want to be consulted on planning issues?

If you would like to be consulted on Local Plan related matters, you can be added to the Local Plan consultation list and receive updates.

The Council will keep you updated with any new plans and documents which will seek to obtain the views of as many people and organisations as possible as part of this process.

Lessons learnt from previous planning consultation and engagement

The previous SCI was focused on early engagement with the public. This included public exhibitions, drop in sessions and workshops. These events were expensive, required a lot of staff to run and set up, and the outcomes were poor and often not planning related.

It was decided that it was far more efficient and effective to attend other events that acted as attractors in their own right with more interactive activities.

In order to access a more representative sample of views we also make use of other sources of information such as corporate surveys and meetings with targeted groups to gauge people's preferences, concerns etc.

In the interests of effective and efficient early engagement with technical stakeholders moreover, an emphasis on workshop-based engagement was proven to be a good way to gather views and expertise from a wide range of organisations and notes of these meetings to be included as representations.

Having undertaken and evaluated a series of formal consultations on Local Plan documents, it was decided that these needed to be supplemented with continuous engagement of local people, making better use of wider corporate resources.

The following challenges to engagement and consultation on planning matters in Preston can be identified, alongside various opportunities to tackle them and improve involvement in planning.

Table 1 - Previous Planning Consultation and Engagement challenges and solutions

ChallengesOpportunities / Solutions
Lack of time to engage; inability to attend consultation events at set times
  • Social media and website enabling 24/7 engagement
  • High levels of internet access, including mobile access
  • Attendance with fun, interactive activities at 'leisure time' events
Understanding of English and Planning
  • Contact with intermediary groups and elected members who can bridge the language barrier
  • Use of plain English, clear, visual presentation
  • Creating an Easy Read Document where possible
  • Promoting understanding through better communications,
    workshops with key representatives
Population churn, meaning residents consulted are not necessarily those that are affected
  • Continuous engagement rather than consultation only at defined points in time
  • Updating the database regularly
Lack of interest in planning, particularly strategic planning - seen to be
boring, not a life priority
  • Engagement in more exciting, interactive ways, using social media and attending other events with wider attractions
  • Engagement on specific issues, (not necessarily badged as planning) over short periods to avoid consultation fatigue
  • Making use of data from corporate surveys and other data gatherers
  • Drawing on Councillors representative knowledge of local people and issues
Suspicion of the Council and cynicism, consultation fatigue
  • Contact with intermediary groups who can bridge the gap
  • Clear and timely reporting of what we have done with the messages given to us
  • Engagement on specific issues, (not necessarily badged as planning) over short periods
  • Making use of data from corporate surveys and other data gatherers

Table 2 - Previous Engagement Activity

Engagement ActivityMost useful at what stage of policymakingExample of when used
Surveys as part of technical
assessments
Evidence base gathering;
monitoring and review
Local Plan and Core
Strategy evidence base
Documents. To inform SPD's
Workshops with technical, statutory and over-arching/
umbrella (e.g. organisations that
work with certain sectors of the
community) stakeholders
Evidence base gathering, issues
and options formulation and
policy drafting and testing
Local Plan: Core Strategy
visioning, evidence base
testing and policy drafting
Practice based experience of 'on
the ground' issues
AllLocal Plan,
SPD's
Local Plan Member Working
Group (focused sessions with
elected members concerning
particular issues relating to
Planning Policies)
Evidence base gathering,
monitoring and review
Local Plan and Core Strategy
Face to face discussions and
interactive activities at community events
Evidence base, issues and
options formulation, monitoring
and review
Inputs to the area-based evidence base re issues
and potential development sites (via defined maps, post-its and stickers)
Discussions and workshops
with groups and individuals that have good links with particular communities
AllIdeas for sites to investigate
for site allocations within the
Local Plan: Detailed Sites and Policies DPD
Meetings with neighbouring and
other authorities on relevant cross- boundary/inter-authority matters, notably transport, waste and other sub-regional
infrastructure, plus housing need
and supply.
AllJoint Core Strategy and Joint SPD's. The City Deal.

Communications and availability

Since the previous SCI was adopted, there have been significant advances in technology and
increased availability of internet access. The majority of people now have access to the internet.

For consultation purposes, primarily emails will be sent to all statutory consultees and people signed up to receive our planning Policy updates. We will have the Consultation on our website and also post on our social media channels - Facebook and Twitter.

For those people without internet access, it is available to the public at all of the libraries in the
Preston area.

Where possible for any consultation documents we will aim to produce an 'easy read' document
for people that struggle to read which will aim to summarise the document picture format.

When people have no access to the internet paper copies can be sent out.

Development Management

Consultation and publicity for planning applications

Where required and where neighbouring land or buildings can be clearly identified, notification
letters are sent to the occupiers. Site notices are displayed in cases where the occupiers of neighbouring land or buildings cannot be identified.

Sometimes site notices will be posted in addition to neighbour notification, where neighbours can be identified.

Consultees, neighbours and any other interested parties can view the plans and information submitted with the application on our website.

For those without access to the internet, an appointment can be made to view the plans at the Council's offices by telephoning 01772 906912.

Consultees are requested, and anyone else is invited, to make comments within 21 days.

Comments should be made in writing and can be submitted via the Council's website, by email to the Planning Department's mailbox - devcon@preston.govuk or by letter.

Such correspondence will not be acknowledged but any responses received within the consultation period which raise planning related issues will be considered as part of the determination of applications.

Lists of new applications are published on the website on a weekly basis. These lists provide information including the site's location, the ward, the nature of the development proposed.

We are committed to involving the community in determining planning applications. Although it is not mandatory the Council believes that engagement by the applicant with the community prior to the submission of a planning application can be advantageous to all parties involved.

In the case of significant planning applications we encourage applicants to carry out community consultation prior to formal submission.

Methods of community consultation will vary depending on the type and scale of development, but may include informing occupiers of nearby properties, ward councillors, Parish Councils where applicable and amenity and community groups.

On smaller scale developments, applicants are advised to discuss proposals with their immediate neighbours prior to submission.

Pre-application discussions

Pre-application discussions with us provide a valuable opportunity to improve the quality of applications, enable us to raise awareness of any local issues, allow decisions to be made more quickly and provide more certainty for applicants.

Major and minor developments

For major developments we offer a Development Team Approach involving a multi-disciplinary team of professionals from key partners in the development process.

We provide pre-application advice on minor developments including domestic extensions..

Information on whether planning permission is likely to be required for a range of common development projects can be obtained from the Planning Portal's website.

Involvement of the community during the processing of planning applications

Amendments may be made to a proposal following negotiation between planning officers and applicants.

There is no statutory requirement for the Local Planning Authority to publicise any changes to applications.

Where amendments make significant changes to a proposal, we will consult the statutory consultees and will notify neighbours and other interested parties, where the changes affect their interest.

What happens after a decision is taken on a planning application

When a decision has been made the decision notice is sent to the applicant (or the applicant's representative) and is published on the Council's website.

If an appeal is lodged against the refusal of permission we will notify in writing all those notified of the original application and anyone who made written representations.

We will forward all representations received on the application to the Planning Inspectorate.

We will advise anyone notified of the process to be followed and the arrangements for sending in any further representations.

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