Statement of Community Involvement for Planning Draft Consultation - January 2020

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8. Community Involvement in the Development Management Process

8.1. Development management is the process by which the council determines whether a proposal for development should be granted planning permission. Planning applications must be determined in accordance with the Development Plan (the current Local Plan and any adopted neighbourhood plan where appropriate) unless material considerations (such as the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) or a draft replacement Local Plan) suggest otherwise.

8.2. Planning applications can be determined in one of two ways:

  • determination by Councillors on the Planning Control Committee; or
  • determination by development management officers under the delegated decision making procedure.

Further information is given on the website: https://www.north-herts.gov.uk/home/planning/planning-advice-and-guidance/planning-applications-decision-making-process.

8.3. The greatest influence the community can have is when those policies that will be used to decide planning applications are being prepared. However, many people only interact with the planning system when they wish to make a planning application of their own or make comments on an application which affects them.

8.4. It is important to ensure that the community is involved in the determination of planning applications, particularly major applications. The council is required to undertake consultation on all planning applications that it receives.

Pre-Application Consultation

8.5. Anyone considering making an application for planning permission can approach the council for informal views prior to submitting a formal application. Any advice given at this stage is not binding, but it can help to save the applicant's time and money in pursuing schemes which may need radical alteration to be acceptable. There are no statutory requirements for pre-application discussions. The council does make a charge for pre-application advice for certain types of development proposal including;

  • Significant or major proposals - Large scale, complex development
  • Category "A" Proposals - Large scale, complex development – including schemes of between 100 – 499 dwellings;
  • Category "B" – including schemes of between 25 and 99 residential units, 2000sq m or more of commercial floorspace, mixed use development on a site of more than 1 hectare (ha) or development requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA);
  • Category "C" Proposals - Other major development – including schemes of between 10 and 24 residential units, provision of 1000sq m – 1999sq m of commercial floorspace, mixed use development on a site between 0.5 and 1ha or change of use proposals for buildings on land exceeding 500sq m; and
  • Category "D" Proposals – including proposals of up to 9 dwellings, advertisements, provision of up to 999sq m of non residential floorspace or change of use of buildings on land exceeding 499sq m; and
  • Category E – Householder and listed buildings.

Full details of the current charges can be found on the council's website: https://www.north-herts.gov.uk/home/planning/apply-planning-permission/do-i-need-planning-permission.

At the moment we consult the relevant statutory consultees, e.g. the Environment Agency.

8.6. As part of the council's Member protocol, a summary of officer's pre-application advice to applicants on Category A schemes will be sent to relevant local ward Members for their information.

8.7. The council cannot insist on pre-application discussions with applicants but they are recommended. Where major schemes are proposed, the council will encourage developers to engage with the local interest groups and residents. However, it is important that councillors observe the council's Planning Code of Good Practice.

8.8. Not all planning proposals are discussed with the council before an application is made. Therefore the tables below set out how the applicant will consult at the pre-application stage, where this is appropriate, whether they are significant or more minor applications.

Table 5 : Public Consultation at the Pre-Application Stage for Planning Applications

(Includes all applications made under the Town and Country Planning Act and associated legislation).

Pre – Application Stage – Major Applications (see Appendix 3)

Consultation Methods

Suggested Course of Action

By Whom

Letters to inform local residents / interest groups of the planning application site

Send letters / emails to local residents / interest groups / relevant statutory consultees

Planning applicant / agent

Public exhibition or public meeting

Publicise & prepare proposals for public consultation.

Planning applicant / agent

Pre – Application Stage – Other Applications

Consultation Methods

Suggested Course of Action

By Whom

Inform neighbours in the immediate vicinity

Verbal consultation

Planning applicant / agent

8.9. Local residents often express concern regarding construction management and in particular construction vehicle access routes to development sites. Developers are strongly advised to consider construction management issues at the earliest possible stage of the planning process. It is best practice to consider sensitive and well thought out construction management plans at the pre-application stage (as part of engagement with Hertfordshire County Council Highways and the District Council) and to seek the views of the local community before planning applications are submitted. The feedback from any public consultation on construction management (including construction vehicle access routes) should then be incorporated into the formal submission of a planning application.

8.10. For strategic site development proposals or schemes of significant scale and local interest, developers may also consider carrying presentations to the relevant Area Committee of the District Council The Council’s Constitution (January 2020) presently states that Area Committees can receive presentations from developers for schemes for 100 dwellings or more. This threshold may change over the lifetime of this SCI. Whilst Member input into these discussions must be limited in order to avoid pre-determination by Members of the Planning Control Committee and substitutes, Area Committees would welcome early engagement for large scale development proposals through this forum.

Public consultation for planning applications

8.11. When a planning application is submitted, the council will publicise it in accordance with the legislative requirements. Where required by the legislation, this will include the following:

  • Notices published in local newspapers;
  • Application details published on the web site for inspection;
  • Site notices;
  • Letters sent to adjoining properties; and
  • Details of all planning, listed buildings and conservation area consent applications are sent weekly to all councillors, the relevant town and parish councils where these exist.

8.12. The council aims to determine all planning applications within a statutory time period, therefore all consultations that take place once a planning application has been submitted must also take place within these time limits. However, bodies such as Natural England will be allowed a longer period of time to comment on applications where this is prescribed by legislation.

8.13. The tables below set out how the council will consult at the application stage for planning proposals in the District, whether they are significant or more minor applications.

Table 6 : Public consultation for planning applications

Planning Application Stage

Consultation Methods

Requirements

By Whom

Copies of planning applications for inspection available at Council Offices

Prepare information

NHDC Officers

Copies of planning applications available at the libraries via the NHDC website

Prepare information

NHDC Officers

Site notice

Prepare site notice and display on site

NHDC Officers

Neighbour notification letters

Prepare & send out letters

NHDC Officers

Invite representations from statutory & non statutory consultees

Prepare & send out letters

NHDC Officers

Public notice in local paper

Prepare advertisement

NHDC Officers

Further consultations by way of exhibitions / public meetings for major applications

This would depend on the types of consultation that have taken place beforehand

Planning Applicant / Agent

NHDC Officers

8.14. In some cases there may be significant amendments to the submitted plans, in which case the council will advise those people who were notified when the application was received. Where representations and comments are received, they will be taken into account in the determination of applications insofar as they are material to the application. Some things are not material planning considerations, such as the impact of a scheme on property values, and therefore cannot be taken into account.

8.15. Local planning authorities are required to make a statement on each planning decision notice as to how they have acted pro-actively in their dealings with applicants. Even if a proposal is fundamentally unacceptable the council will handle the application in a pro-active way, which will involve regular communication with the applicant or their representatives throughout the determination process. This requirement in no way suggests that the application will not be assessed objectively weighing up any concerns expressed by consultees against the planning merits of the case.

8.16. Decisions on planning applications will either be made by the relevant Committee or under powers delegated to the Development and Conservation Manager and Principal Planning Officer (Development Management). Any councillor can request that an application is decided by Committee instead of being determined under delegated powers, where they have a contrary view to the officer as to the probable decision or consider it raises issues of wider public interest.

8.17. In the case of those applications which will be reported to the Committees for decision, there is the opportunity for individuals to address the Committee to express their support or objection to the proposals. Anyone who has submitted representations will be informed if an application will be brought before committee for decision.


Post decision information

8.18. Once a decision has been made, the details of the decision are published online. Planning files will remain open for inspection once decisions have been made (the Part 2 register). A register of associated legal agreements (Section 106 and Section 278 agreements) will also be available for inspection.

8.19. The table below sets out how the council will inform the community of the decisions made on all planning applications.

Table 7 : Public Involvement - Post Decisions

Post Application Stage

Consultation Methods

Requirements

By Whom

Update web site

Ensure that latest information is on the website

NHDC Officers

Press release for major applications

Prepare information

NHDC Officers


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