Adoption of the Statement of Community Involvement
To consider the above report
Members considered adoption of the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) a document setting out how the council would engage with the public and other stakeholders in the production of planning documents and when making decisions on planning applications. The Council needed to update the 2006 version of the document to comply with government guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (March 2012), and relevant regulations; Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012.
Councillor D. Wilson highlighted that if the document was not adopted, the council would not have an up to date SCI and would therefore not comply with current legislation. The document was needed to move forward with the Borough Local Plan. Councillor D. Wilson highlighted an amendment he wished to make to paragraph 3.19 at page 43 to remove the words ‘with significant impacts’ as he felt it should relate to all major applications. Councillor Smith questioned whether the wording relating to Tier 1 in paragraph 3.2 should also therefore be amended. Councillor Bateson suggested that Neighbourhood Planning Delivery Groups and other similarly constituted bodies should be included on page 42 of the document.
Councillor Hilton commented that the document set out how the council would consult with residents on all aspects of the planning process. He had attended planning meetings in adjacent boroughs and believed that the Royal Borough brought more democracy into the process than others. Three DC Panels allowed time for rigorous debate and community groups in the Windsor Rural area had up to 7 minutes to address the Panel, which was more than most councils gave. When he had chaired a Local Action Group 12 years previously he had been told by the then Head of Planning that it would not be possible to discuss an imminent significant development until an application had been submitted. The SCI showed how (albeit for a fee) pre-application advice was available to developers to identify strengths and weaknesses and increase the likelihood of first time approval. All applicants should be encouraged to engage with the local community even if this was not required by law.
Councillor E. Wilson raised a number of concerns about the complaints process. It seemed to suggest that there would be no acknowledgement of a complaint at stage 1; that a full response would be given in 10 working days form the date the complaints team agreed to specific issues; and did not say what would happen if the proposed resolution was not to the liking of the complainant.
Councillor Burbage highlighted that South East Water was referenced twice on page 49. Councillor D. Wilson agreed this typographical error could be removed under the proposed delegation.
Councillor Beer commented that the title was misleading and should explain that it related to all planning matters, as was detailed in the report summary. He had been unable to see any reference to parish councils, other than the Parish Conference which only met four times a year, and Eton Town Council.
Councillor M. Airey endorsed removal of the words ‘with significant impacts’. He also highlighted the important role ward councillors played in relation to applications that were not necessarily significant in terms of planning but were so in terms of the community.
Councillor D. Wilson referred members to paragraph 3.17 that detailed the rights of parish councils to speak at Development Control Panels, which recognised their important role. He confirmed that although he was proposing removal of wording in paragraph 3.19, there would be no need for a change to Tiers 1 and 2. Under the proposed delegation he would be able to tidy up the wording of the complaints process, in light of Councillor E. Wilson’s comments.
Councillor D. Wilson proposed an additional recommendation to include Neighbourhood Delivery Groups and other similarly constituted bodies in paragraph 3.17
It was proposed by Councillor D. Wilson, seconded by Councillor Hilton, and:
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Council:
i.Approve the adoption of the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) document for use in consultation on planning matters.
ii. Delegate authority to the Strategic Director of Corporate and Community Services in liaison with the Lead Member for Planning to make any future minor amendments
iii. Agree to include Neighbourhood Delivery Groups and other similarly constituted bodies in paragraph 3.17