What is a Statement of Community Involvement?
The Statement of Community Involvement is a key document in explaining not only who, how and why the community and stakeholders have been consulted. But crucially it explains how the feedback gathered during the consultation process has been taken into account in the evolution of the proposals subject to the planning application being submitted.
Established as part of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 in United Kingdom law, the statements of community involvement are produced by local authorities to explain to the public how they will be involved in the preparation of local development documents. They should set out the standards to be met by the authority in terms of community involvement, building upon the minimum requirements set out in the Regulations and PPS 12. Prior to the statement being adopted, local authorities must ensure that any plan preparation work meets these minimum requirements.
A key outcome of the SCI will be to encourage ‘front loading’ meaning that consultation with the public begins at the earliest stages of each document’s development so that communities are given the fullest opportunity to participate in plan making and to make a difference.
What should a Statement of Community Involvement include?
A Statement of Community Involvement should cover the following aspects:
- The Policy Background – Here the writer needs to address the relevant Statement of Community Involvement produced by the local authority which establishes how consultation on an application should be undertaken for a scheme of its size or nature
- Description of the planning application or proposal
- What community engagement or public consultation activities were undertaken, when, how and who was involved. Ideally backed up with evidence, e.g. photos of an exhibition, copies of the leaflet inviting the community to attend, screengrabs of any website, social media etc. Evidence that the community were engaged and consulted in a meaningful way is key here.
- Details of the public consultation and the feedback received
- The design response to the public and stakeholder feedback. This has cross-over with the Design & Access Statement (if one is being produced) in that, as a writer of the report, you need to reflect on how the feedback from the community engagement led to any changes to the proposed development
- A brief summary and conclusion of your findings and your recommendation, e.g, “following an extensive community engagement exercise, the scheme was modified, taking into account community and stakeholder feedback, the proposal therefore accords with all local and national requirements for pre-application consultation.”
How long should my Statement of Community Involvement be?
This depends very much on the size and nature of the development proposed. The level of consultation usually relates to the impact or scale of a proposal, this is therefore reflected in the length of the statement of community involvement. A larger, more complex proposal with more intensive community engagement will require a longer write-up to fully explain the process which has been undertaken and the results of the exercise.
The key here is to make sure you have covered the requirements for consultation as set out by the relevant local authority, and/or national guidance. We usually find contacting the Planning Officers themselves a useful first step to ascertain a suitable level of consultation.
About the author
James Garrett is the principal of Community Engagement Consultants, a Planning and Community Engagement practice in Hertfordshire. James has an undergraduate and post graduate degree in Town Planning from Oxford Brookes University. In his 11 year career, James has worked on large numbers of community engagement projects from small infill sites to large mixed use urban extensions.
For further help
If you have questions about preparing a Statement of Community Involvement, or you would like some professional support to produce one please contact us. Here at Community Engagement Consultants we can deliver the entire community engagement for you, from organising a public exhibition, facilitating workshops, promoting the events within the community and producing the Statement of Community Involvement for submission with the planning application.
Please contact us to discuss your project, planning or community engagement requirements. We are based in Hertfordshire but we are happy to travel throughout the UK for the right project.
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01279 882 415