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Greater Cambridge Statement of Community Involvement

26/01/2024 - Greater Cambridge Statement of Community Involvement

Matter for Decision

The Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) sets out how the Council would engage on planning matters and must be reviewed at least every five years. The report presented a reviewed and updated draft SCI and sought agreement to carry out a public consultation prior to a final version being brought back to Committee for consideration and adoption.


Decision of the Executive Councillor for Planning, Building Control and Infrastructure

      i.          Agreed the draft reviewed Statement of Community Involvement 2023 (attached at Appendix 1 of the Officer’ report) and accompanying Equalities Impact Assessment (EqIA) (Appendix 2) to be subject to public consultation.

     ii.          Approved that the preparation of materials and the running of the consultation be delegated to the Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development

  iii.          Agreed that any subsequent material amendments prior to consultation be made by the Executive Councillor for Planning, Building Control and Infrastructure, and that any subsequent minor amendments and editing changes that do not materially affect the content prior to consultation, be delegated to the Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development in consultation with the Executive Councillor for Planning, Building Control and Infrastructure.


Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.


Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.


Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Planning Policy and Strategy Team Leader.


In response to Members’ questions the Planning Policy and Strategy Team Leader said the following:

      i.          Agreed there was a need to strengthen the wording relating to early developer led community engagement and would look at the wording in section 4.

     ii.          Would look at the wording to strengthen the alternative to digital services. Online services were a convenient way for residents to engage at a time that suited their lifestyle; should be noted that Central Government were very keen to digitise the planning system, and the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Services was already involved in some of these digitalisation projects.

   iii.          Officers were mindful that not all residents had access to the internet or able to use a computer/ electronic device, therefore face to face events have previously and would continue to be explored where possible and relevant, including engaging directly with gypsy and travellers on issues such as the emerging Greater Cambridge Local Plan.

   iv.          Noted the comment that sixteen percent of the English population were illiterate.

    v.          Welcomed the comment to make digital services at the simplest level so could be used on a mobile phone.

   vi.          The Shared Planning Services website was undergoing a review, one of the key focuses was to ensure that the entire website and its services was completely readable on tablets and mobile phones as much as a laptop.  

 vii.          Confirmed the fifteen-minute free advice service was available for householders and small business queries. From September 4, the pre application level one advice had been temporarily withdrawn for charities, as agreed with lead members. This service was currently being reviewed.

viii.          Within the list of non-statutory consultees in Appendix 5, it did state that officers consult with a number of internal council services areas and provided some examples, however more of these services could be added to that list as requested, but the caveat should be, where relevant, as not all internal service areas were relevant for each planning application.

   ix.          Acknowledged the lead local flood authority should be included as a statutory consultee in Appendix 5.

    x.          Noted the comment that the language in all public documentation needed to be simplified, had to consider that planning was full of technical jargon with a wide audience, but would look at simplifying the introduction.

   xi.          Agreed that high quality engagement from residents was what was required, it shouldn’t just be based on the number of residents attending an event.

 xii.          Acknowledged there was not a southern area forum. Feedback had been received from the communities’ team at how well they considered the current area forums were working.  The Joint Director for Planning and Economic Development would be looking at developing this work further at a corporate level, to consider whether the geographical locations of each forum were correct and how they could be improved in terms of input and community participation.

xiii.          Would speak with the development management team regarding compliance of whether target times were being achieved.

xiv.          The SCI should be seen a statement of intent, setting out what would be done in terms of Section 106 engagement.

xv.          The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) stated that that planning conditions could only be applied if they met the six key tests:

1.    Necessary

2.    Relevant to planning

3.    Relevant to the development

4.    Enforceable

5.    Precise

6.    Reasonable

If a planning condition was in place it was there for a reason and could be enforced. There may be circumstances where it is not appropriate to enforce, may come down to individual circumstances.


The Executive Councillor informed the Committee there had been a review of the compliance team and wording of the conditions to ensure that they were enforceable.


The Committee unanimously endorsed the Officer recommendations.


The Executive Councillor for Planning, Building Control and Transport approved the recommendations.


Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted).