With so many proposals contained in the White Paper, we thought we would try to demystify some of the key themes one by one, go beyond the headlines in the press, and explore what is actually being proposed. Today, we are looking at public participation in the plan making process. So, what does the White Paper say and what will change?
Up front, the White Paper says:
‘We wish to… move the democracy forward in the planning process and give neighbourhoods and communities an earlier and more meaningful voice in the future of their area as plans are made, harnessing digital technology to make it much easier to access and understand information about specific planning proposals. More engagement should take place at the Local Plan phase.’
‘Local councils should radically and profoundly re-invent the ambition, depth and breadth with which they engage with communities as they consult on Local Plans. Our reforms will democratise the planning process by putting a new emphasis on engagement at the plan-making stage’
But how does the White Paper propose to achieve this?
The key proposal is for ‘meaningful public engagement’ from the very start of the process with ‘best in class’ ways of achieving public involvement for where development should go and what it should look like. Little detail is provided on how this should be done. However, Christopher Katkowski QC, a member of the taskforce that helped to write the White Paper highlighted on a London Forum webinar earlier this week, that the focus of the White Paper is on big ideas and he said that this is an opportunity for all civic societies to put forward ideas on how this could be achieved.
We want to ask, ‘How should communities be involved at the plan making stage? For example, should civic societies be statutory consultees at the local plan stage? Could citizen juries or assemblies be part of the solution? Let us know what you think. Tell us your ideas and examples of good practice and we will feed this back to Government. Fill in the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3KVM8TB.
You can read the full White Paper online here. The Government is consulting on the proposals until 29 October 2020.
Our director Ian Harvey, has started to explore some of his own ideas in a blog here.