Statement of Community Involvement consultation - have your say

IMPORTANT - astonishingly, Buckinghamshire Council is running a consultation on not consulting the public on planning issues!
Are you OK with:

  • not being notified if your neighbours submit planning applications or do you still want to be notified by the Council? How would you otherwise know that planning applications had been submitted?
  • Planning Notices on lampposts being discontinued? How would you find out about planning applications in your street, high street or town?
  • not having the chance to see and be consulted on the new draft Local Plan? How would you find out about what was in it? Remember the 1600 homes, travellers’ site and business park and supermarket on Altons Carpark which was in the Local Plan withdrawn last year? What if we never saw that draft until it was too late to oppose it? Maybe that’s the idea.

These changes in policy are set out in a Bucks Council document which they are consulting on until 22nd March. That document is called “Statement of Community Involvement” (SCI) which is ironic because it removes much community involvement. The extracts of text below are from the SCI.
We will explain the issues in a nutshell below and then explain how you can respond to the consultation to say NO to losing your chance to comment on planning issues. You can read the consultation document here:
The given aim of the SCI is “to involve communities as early in the process as possible” but this document does the opposite. Bucks Council says “we want you to feel empowered to get involved with planning should you so wish” – but how can you do so, if you are denied the opportunity to know about planning applications because they are on a website somewhere and you didn’t know they were there? How can you influence a Local Plan if the Council doesn’t provide a draft Plan and consult you on it?
In a nutshell
Local Plans – look at the extract below, at what the Council say they WILL do as opposed to what they MAY (or may not) do, to inform you of a new Local Plan. They MAY (but may not) publish a draft Plan for public consultation. They may or may not hold workshops or exhibitions to tell you what is in the Plan. What they WILL do is very little indeed and they don’t say they WILL consult you on a new draft Local Plan. Your voice is being removed. It will only be once the new Local Plan is published (the final version ready for the planning inspectors to examine) that you could then comment to the planning inspectors, missing out consultation at the draft Local Plan stage between public and Council. You would only have 6 weeks to oppose a new Local Plan before it goes to the planning inspectors.

Planning Applications – we consider that the Council MUST (not merely “MAY” as set out in this extract) do the following when a planning application is submitted:
You can respond to the consultation in 3 ways (by 22nd March):

In a nutshell, we suggest that where the Statement of Community Involvement says the Council “MAY” do something, it should be amended to say the Council “MUST” do it, in order to protect your community voice. Don’t lose your chance to have your say on planning matters in the future.

You can read our response to the consultation here which may give you ideas on how to respond.

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