Changes to the built environment can be life-changing for surrounding communities and the local economy, so it’s essential that communities are involved when planning decisions are being made. That’s where the Statement of Community Involvement comes in: to make sure this can happen.
What is the Statement of Community involvement (SCI)?
The Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) is a policy document that broadly explains the following:
- What the council will consult and engage with the community on
- When the council will consult and engage the community
- How the council will consult and engage the community
- Who within the community the council will consult and engage with
Through the SCI, Southwark Council ‘want to ensure that all those who live, work, study, worship and volunteer in the borough can be involved in local planning decisions and the preparation of regeneration and planning strategies to help shape the places in our Borough.’ The SCI is not the council’s general statement of policy for community involvement in a wider sense, but relates only to matters on planning and regeneration. Check out the next section to see what we mean.
Our priorities are for all Southwark residents, groups, businesses, statutory organisations and anyone who has an interest in planning whether they are adults, children, young people, refugees, asylum seekers and so on. We will implement these priorities and this Statement of Community Involvement when consulting on planning documents and applications. We will make changes as we learn from the experience of implementing the Statement of Community Involvement. We will carry out an annual review through the Annual Monitoring Report – Southwark Council Statement of Community Involvement (2008)
What are the legal requirements behind the SCI?
The Statement of Community Involvement is required by all local planning authorities (LPA) by law. The LPA is often included within the local council as is the case with Southwark Council. This legal requirement was first introduced in 2004 by an act of parliament. Since then, there have been many additional requirements that must be included in the Statement of Communtiy Involvement which you can read about below.
Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004
The legal requirement for a local Statement of Community Involvement is outlined Planning and Compulsory Purchase Order Act 2014. According to The Planning Portal, “the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 is a key element of the Government’s agenda for speeding up the planning system. The provisions introduce powers which allow for the reform and speeding up of the plans system and an increase in the predictability of planning decisions, the speeding up of the handling of major infrastructure projects and the need for simplified planning zones to be identified in the strategic plan for a region”.
Section 18 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires local planning authorities to produce a Statement of Community Involvement which explains how they will engage local communities and other interested parties in producing their local plan and determining planning applications.
Every few years, the Statement of Community Involvement must be rewritten to accommodate new laws and regulations. This means that while the SCI will still discuss how the local authority for planning matters will engage with the community, they must consistently show how they are dealing with these new legal standards.
For example, say the government were to pass new equalities legislation that specifically compels planning authorities to show higher standards of inclusivity toward people with disabilities. The local authority would then be obligated to illustrate how they intend to engage with communities with this characteristic in planning matters.
This poses numerous complications if, for example, an SCI was published and then one week later the government passes new legislation that undermines its legality, notwithstanding that writing these documents consumes considerable time and financial resources. To combat this deficiency, the new Southwark SCI will be a ‘live’ online document which can be edited on an ongoing basis to accommodate new legal requirements and obligations, such as through hyperlinks to new online documents that specifically deal with the newly emerged legislation.