Planning decisions have an impact on people’s lives and surroundings. The apparently ‘distant’ nature of the planning process is sometimes bemoaned by the public, but do communities have any real agency in these decisions?
Are the public given a voice?
Yes! Before an application is submitted, preliminary plans can be made available to residents and business owners (and anyone else who is interested!). The evolution of ideas and the rationale behind the design approach might be presented formally through a Public Consultation. This is an opportunity for locals to ask questions. These events are publicised through leaflets or letters to households, advertisements in local newspapers and on websites. The information is also made available online for those who are unable to be present at the consultation. Feedback is encouraged via a variety of methods, which may include paper feedback forms, dedicated webpages, or individuals contacting the relevant parties.
Are the community’s opinions considered?
Yes! Neighbourhood groups may also be approached for discussion directly. All comments, whether from groups or individuals, are reviewed and any appropriate adjustments are made to the plans. A Statement of Community Involvement may be included as part of the planning application, to show a willingness to engage with and respond to local concerns.
One such example is a current project to rejuvenate a central village location by building new dwellings on brownfield land. Concern was raised about the density of the housing and the burden this might place on amenities; the number of proposed dwellings was reduced to be more in line with the general expectation of the residents.
How can I be involved in decisions that shape my local area?
Look out for opportunities to comment on proposals. Public consultations should be advertised and developers will take your questions seriously. Additionally, information on current planning applications are available via the ‘Planning’ section of your council’s website, alongside details of how to comment on the proposals. Social media pages are also increasingly highlighting proposed plans and ways to engage with them – why not join your local group?
Better still, why not contact us? http://www.ethicalpartnership.co.uk/contact/