To consider the Statement of Community Involvement and Community Engagement Strategy.
The New Communities Senior Planner introduced the report. She said it had been adopted by the Council in 2006 following a requirement set out in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act of 2004. It had been updated and reviewed regularly since then and the current update had taken into account the new Local Plan and the Covid 19 pandemic.
The role of the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) is to encourage participation from residents and involvement in the planning application and Local Plan process. The Council needed to comply with the SCI and demonstrate this to the Inspector. She gave a brief overview of how the community could be involved, and how this process had changed to invite discussion and more responses to a variety of themes.
She said that there was a lower number of people commenting on the SCI, but said it reflected the on going refinement, continued update of comments, and technical nature of the document.
The Local Plan and New Communities Manager highlighted that the SCI was intended to hold the Council to account on the consultation regarding planning applications and the Local Plan process.
Councillor Crisione said he had concerns about the SCI and, in the current format, he did not feel able to recommend the document to Cabinet. He said it needed to provide details of how the developer should engage with the Community so that at pre-application stage they understood what was expected from them. He asked if this could be revisited and a section on progression of strategic sites added. He gave Epping Forest’s SCI as a good example and said he could share the details.
Councillor Evans thanked Councillor Criscione for his views. He said it might be difficult to incorporate and amend the SCI at this stage. He said the process should be about working together with promotors of strategic sites, and a statement of common ground could be devised, but not all developers had and would engage.
The Local Plan and New Communities Manager said there were a few issues:-
· The SCI was intended to hold the Council to account not developers.
· The Council was not able to force developers to comply; it would be better to engage and consult with developers to address these issues.
· The Development Management team would need to be involved.
The Chair said that if the proposals were relying on developer’s good will rather than compulsion to act this would allow them to interpret the rules in their favour rather than that of the Community.
Councillor Criscione said he recognised that the document related to what is expected from the Council; however it would be interpreted and used by developers in community engagement terms. He was concerned about speculative developers and said it was important for the document to be prescriptive so they knew what the Council expected from them. He said that it could not be too late for input otherwise there was no point in bringing the report to Scrutiny.
Councillor Evans ... view the full minutes text for item 3