Statement of Community Involvement 2011

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 The aim of the Horsham District Council Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) is to ensure that the community is genuinely involved in the production of Local Development Framework (LDF) documents and to strengthen community involvement in planning and development in the District over time.

1.2 The Council has a long history of involving local communities and organisations in planning and other Council matters.  A number of consultation documents have been produced in recent years and the Council has undertaken successful and well attended exhibitions throughout the District on a range of issues and documents. The Council continues to work closely with local communities in the production of Parish Appraisals, Parish Plans and Design Statements, and the Single Equality Scheme, and with many local organisations which have specific interests. The Council has in the past held 'Developer Days' to give developers the opportunity to present their proposals for potential housing development sites in the District. This may be an appropriate process to use again in the future. While people responding to the Council's consultations have been mainly established adult members of the community or local amenity organisations, as well as statutory organisations such as the Environment Agency, more recently, through LDF document consultations, there has been greater involvement from the wider community. However, there are some groups that rarely respond to consultations such as young people and the business community.

1.3 With the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, a new planning system was introduced which gave the Council the opportunity to formalise many of the arrangements and processes it had used over previous years to try and reach all sections of the community.  The 2007 SCI showed what the Council was going to do over and above the minimum required by Government. The intention with the present document is to continue this strong focus on involvement across the District, although recent changes to the Act, regulations and guidance have also further embedded community involvement in the planning system. The SCI, however, is not intended to be a detailed discussion of the different methods the Council will use to involve people, but to outline its approach.  It describes how the Council is already involving the community as well as further work it will be undertaking.

1.4 The SCI provides information on the planning system and the documents which will be produced, and sets out how the Council will work with partner organisations, other interested parties ('stakeholders') and the community in the production of LDF documents.  The Statement also outlines how consultation and involvement processes happen within the Council.  It outlines the arrangements for monitoring, the resources to be used and how the Council will feedback the results or outcomes to the community. It also discusses community involvement in relation to planning application decisions and explains the role of the Council and that of applicants or their agents.

1.5 The SCI enforces the importance of the Council's active approach to community involvement in planning, including the value it places on the contributions from a wide range of people within the community, whatever form these may take - ranging from formal comments to people offering opinions and insights and their expertise.  Community and stakeholder involvement will take place on particular issues or on a site by site basis, with continuing widespread involvement and consultation on documents of a more general nature. These will be available in a variety of formats to allow all members of the community to comment on them.

1.6 The SCI will assist the Council and the community in working towards achieving as much agreement as possible on development proposals and contentious planning issues.  While it will not be possible to achieve agreement in all matters, the use of methods outlined in the SCI should ensure that as wide a range of views as possible is taken into account to assist the Council in the formal decision-making process.

1.7 The SCI sets out realistic ways in which the Council can achieve community involvement taking into account the Council's available resources and the need to make best use of existing methods and approaches wherever possible.

1.8 The SCI will also assist the Council in working towards meeting its requirements under The Equality Act 2010 which aims to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between different groups.

1.9 The SCI will be monitored annually, which will allow it to be updated where there are changes in circumstances.

1.10 In updating the Statement of Community Involvement, the Council has again worked with other local authorities within West Sussex, including the County Council, and has sought information from organisations and societies on how and when they would like to be involved and which issues particularly interest them.

Components of the Local Development Framework

Components of the Local Development Framework