Local plans – why get involved?
Local Plans are where the big decisions on planning for the future of communities and land are made. They set out the long-term strategy for the development of the area covered by each local planning authority.
This includes deciding the future role of cities, towns and villages, and where new development should be concentrated. Local Plans identify: where, and how many, new homes should be built; the locations where businesses need more land to expand; which areas need to be regenerated (such as former industrial or military land, or older housing estates); where new shops should be located; and which areas should be protected from development (such as sensitive landscapes or habitats).
So, if you want to have your say in plans for the future of your city, town, village or neighbourhood it is important to get involved in the Local Plan. This is the best way to influence where and how development takes place.
Who prepares Local Plans?
Local Plans are prepared by the local planning authority – your district or unitary council, depending on whether you have a single- or two-tier local authority. Where relevant, local planning authorities may chose to develop a Joint Local Plan with a neighbouring authority. Minerals and Waste Local Plans are prepared by county councils or, where they don’t exist, unitary authorities.
The Government expects that in preparing a Local Plan the local planning authority will seek to engage and work together with neighbourhoods, local organisations and businesses. This will ensure that the Local Plan reflects the vision and aspirations of the local community.
The role of town and parish councils and the public
Town and parish councils and the public have an important role to play in the Local Plan process. They are all invited to participate by making comments (sometimes referred to as ‘representations’) on the draft plan. They may also be invited to participate in a consultation event, make comments at a roadshow or in response to a leaflet, or get involved in a citizens’ panel. This guide will help you think about what you want to say, and to make your comments in the most effective way.
Statements of Community Involvement
Statements of Community Involvement set out how the local planning authority will engage local communities in plan making: who they will engage and how. In particular, they list the community groups and other organisations which will be contacted about Local Plan stages, and the methods of consultation which will be used. Hard-to-reach groups are identified, and methods of helping them get involved set out. There is an emphasis on ‘front loading’ – getting people involved earlier on, to have a more meaningful input to the choices the plan will make.