Eastbourne Statement of Community Involvement

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Every day, decisions are made about our surroundings: what homes, roads, offices, and shops are built and where, and what public spaces will be created and protected. These decisions affect us all, and the Town and Country Planning system seeks to ensure that the local community and other stakeholders are involved in them.

1.2 It is important that local people understand the planning process and are given the opportunity to get involved to contribute to planning decisions. In order to achieve this, Eastbourne Borough Council has produced this Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) to set out the standards and approaches that the Council will take to involve stakeholders and the community in the consulting on planning matters.

What is a Statement of Community Involvement?

1.3 Section 18 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (as amended) requires local planning authorities to produce a Statement of Community Involvement (SCI), which should explain how they will engage local communities and other interested parties in producing their Local Plan and determining planning applications.

1.4 Eastbourne Borough Council is the Local Planning Authority for the Eastbourne Borough area, excluding the area within the South Downs National Park. Within this area, the Local Planning Authority is the South Downs National Park Authority.

1.5 Eastbourne Borough Council's SCI sets standards and methods that will be followed for engaging residents, local groups, stakeholders and statutory consultees in:

  • The preparation of the plans (known as Local Development Documents) and policies that set out what the town requires and how it will change over a 15 to 20 year period (Plan making); and
  • The determination of planning applications for new development (Development Management).
  • In the case of Neighbourhood Planning the SCI will set out the policy of the Council to advise and assist to Neighbourhood Planning

1.6 The Council's first SCI was adopted in 2006, with a technical amendment made in 2009. This SCI has been used to direct consultation on the production of planning policy documents such as the Core Strategy, the Town Centre Local Plan and the Employment Land Local Plan.

1.7 The Council has reviewed and amended the previous SCI to take into account legislative changes since 2009 and to reflect on previous experience of consultation in order to make the consultation process more accessible, efficient and effective. This SCI was subject to public consultation between 24th March and 19th May 2017. In 2017 new legislation on Neighbourhood Planning made it necessary to revise the recently adopted SCI (July 2017) to accommodate some specific legislative requirements.

1.8 In the revised version of the SCI, new information including the Council's policy on assistance and advice it will provide to groups engaged in or seeking to engage in Neighbourhood Planning is included. However, community engagement in Neighbourhood Planning is the responsibility of the Neighbourhood Forum, and apart from including the requirements set out in legislation, this SCI doesn't prescribe the way a Neighbourhood Forum will engage with the community.

Why get involved?

1.9 Most people have limited contact with the planning system. They may need to make a planning application for an extension to their home, or possibly their neighbour makes a planning application and the Council contacts them for their views.

1.10 However many people are interested in their town's future. They want their children to have a decent home and job and they value Eastbourne's environment. They have clear ideas as to the kind of place they would like Eastbourne to be but probably have not realised the important role of planning in helping to achieve these ideas.

1.11 The Council values these ideas and wants to hear from the local community both when it is considering planning applications and when it is preparing planning policies.

Legislation and National Policy

1.12 The key pieces of legislation and national policy that are relevant to consultation on planning matters and the preparation of this SCI are outlined below.

National Planning Policy Framework

1.13 The National Planning Policy Framework 2018 (NPPF) sets out guidance for local planning authorities both in drawing up plans and making decisions about planning applications. Paragraph 15 and 16 of the NPPF set out that planning should 'be genuinely plan-led (...) and a platform for local people to shape their surroundings. (15) Plans should: (...) c) be shaped by early, proportionate and effective engagement between plan-makers and communities, local organisations, businesses, infrastructure providers and operators and statutory consultees.

1.14 In addition, the National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) adds further context to the NPPF and provides additional advice on a range of matters including on local plans, determining planning applications, and consultation and pre-decision matters. Regard must be had to national policies and advice contained in the NPPF and NPPG in plan making, and these are also 'material considerations' in the determination of planning applications.

Localism Act 2011

1.15 Section 110 of the Localism Act 2011 introduced a "Duty to Co- operate" for local planning authorities and other public bodies to work collaboratively on strategic, cross boundary issues. It requires Local Planning Authorities and other prescribed bodies to engage in the preparation of development plan documents and other activities relating to the sustainable development and use of land, in particular in connection with strategic matters, defined as matters affecting more than one planning area.

1.16 The Localism Act also contains a wide range of measures to devolve more powers to councils and neighbourhoods and give local communities greater control over local decisions like housing and planning. These new provisions will allow for planning permission to be granted through neighbourhood development orders - including a category of such orders to be known as "Community Right to Build Orders". It amends the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 to make provision on a new category of development plans: neighbourhood development plans. These plans and orders will be made by local planning authorities on the initiative of parish/town councils or neighbourhood forums.

Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017

1.17 The Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 is designed to encourage communities engaged in neighbourhood planning to complete the process and to assist others to draw up their own plans or orders. The Act strengthens neighbourhood planning by ensuring that planning decision-makers take account of very advanced neighbourhood plans; requiring parish councils and designated neighbourhood forums to be automatically notified of future planning applications in their area and, by giving neighbourhood plans full legal effect at an earlier stage. It introduces a proportionate process for modifying neighbourhood development orders and plans and facilitates the modification of neighbourhood areas, plans and orders where one has already been made. The Act also makes it the duty of local planning authorities to support neighbourhood planning groups and increases the transparency of the neighbourhood planning examination process.

1.18 The Act also amends existing legislation with regard to local development documents, planning conditions (especially pre-commencement conditions), compulsory purchase and other specified planning matters.

Equalities Act 2010

1.19 Under the Equalities Act 2010, local authorities must have regard to the Public Sector Equalities Duty in respect of engaging with people with 'protective characteristics': age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. The Equalities Act requires that due regard should be given to:

  • eliminate unlawful discrimination
  • advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don't
  • foster or encourage good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don't.

Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000

1.20 Representations submitted on planning consultations cannot be treated in confidence under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This means that copies of representations and the name of the person submitting the representation will be made publicly available, and by submitting representations, consultees accept responsibility for their comments. However, under the Data Protection legislation, other personal information such as telephone numbers, email/private addresses and signatures will not be made publicly available.