Agenda item

Local Plan - Statement of Community Involvement

The following report seeks Cabinet approval of the Statement of Community Involvement, attached at Appendix 2.

The Statement of Community Involvement sets out the Council’s approach to consultation on planning matters such as the Local Plan, Planning Applications and Neighbourhood Planning. The current Statement of Community Involvement was adopted in March 2007; it is therefore necessary for the Council to review its Statement of Community Involvement.

Decision:

It was agreed that the Statement of Community Involvement be approved and published on the Council’s website.

 

Minutes:

The Director (Planning & Development) introduced all three Local Plan reports and noted that his role had changed to enable him to focus on Housing Strategy and Development, Development Management and Planning Policy, which includes the delivery of the Local Plan in accordance with the updated Local Development Scheme which was being submitted for approval. He confirmed that resources were in place to drive forward and deliver this process.

The Planning Manager (Policy) introduced the Statement of Community Involvement which set out how local and statutory stakeholders would be consulted as part of the plan making and decision taking processes in terms of planning. The principle behind this approach was to provide greater clarity and transparency to stakeholders whilst fostering local ownership of both the strategic approach taken in planning terms and decisions taken.

A complete refresh of the Statement of Community Involvement was required rather than minor changes. However, the approach continued to be one that followed the requirements of Government regulations and best practice. 

The following points were raised during discussion on this item:

·                     Following a question about the range of the consultation process, it was confirmed that the main Local Plan document would be submitted to Cabinet before being considered for approval by Council for formal adoption.  However, the supplementary planning documents of the Local Plan, such as the windows and doors guidance document, can be adopted by Cabinet. The officer also confirmed that approval would not be sought from any Member-led review groups.

·                     It was noted that the Strategic Environment Cabinet Committee would be part of the consultation process.

·                     Attention was drawn to paragraph 5.13 of Appendix 2 and Members were advised that the Council was required to meaningfully engage with neighbouring local authorities on strategic cross-border issues for example, not being able to meet housing targets. For Kent County Council this cross-border discussion might include education, highways, waste and minerals. During the process of the preparation of our Local Plan documents, the duty to co-operate was with the Borough Council. Conversely for KCC’s mineral and waste plans, the duty was within them. As they produce their own Local Plans, other local authorities will have their own duty to consult and co-operate on cross-boundary issues.

·                     It was confirmed that whilst social media would be used to promote the consultation such channels would not be utilised for two-way correspondence. Potential consultees would be directed to the Council’s online consultation system and comments would be submitted using a standard format. The system would also provide general global feedback on the progress of the consultation and any oncoming deadlines. Consultees would also be reminded of response deadlines by appropriate means e.g. letter, by email and by social media.

·                     It was acknowledged that since the last Statement of Community Involvement had been published in 2007, the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 had introduced new requirements regarding the involvement of interested parties including parish councils who can prepare their own Neighbourhood Plans. The officer confirmed that the Council did engage with the parish councils, but it was up to the parishes to promote their own neighbourhood plans. However, he undertook to look at this issue and discuss it further with Members in due course.

 

·                     Following a question on how stakeholders were identified, Members were advised that best practice was used as a guide. However, the officer asked for Members input to enable to Council to go above and beyond.

·                     The Planning Manager (Policy) confirmed that stakeholders could send their response to the consultation by letter.

·                     The Planning Manager (policy) explained that the Statement of Community Involvement set out what would normally be undertaken but, it was likely that for each consultation phase, consideration would be given to what might be needed in addition to the requirements set out in the Statement of Community Involvement.  For example, it was anticipated that consultations could be also be publicised in “Your Borough”.

·                     The Chair confirmed that officers understood that the consultation and associated process would be run as per the recommended timescales within resources with no delays.

Resolved that the Statement of Community Involvement be approved.

Supporting documents: