Agenda item

Temporary changes to City Corporation Statement of Community Involvement

Report of the Director of the Built Environment.


The Committee considered a report of the Director of the Built Environment proposing temporary amendments to the City of London Corporation’s Statement of Community Involvement arising from the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic.


The Director of the Built Environment introduced the report and drew Members’ attention to the key points. Officers underlined that the report was prepared a few weeks ago and also set out how consultation could continue to be performed effectively in the City during the current movement restrictions. Members were reminded that the government had announced further changes to the planning system through regulatory changes that had come into force today and will remain in force until the end of 2020. For planning applications, the regulations had now given local authorities the flexibility to publicise applications electronically if they were not able to meet the statutory requirements for physical site notices, neighbour notifications or newspaper publicity. It was highlighted that the regulations also extend the minimum period for responding to consultations by 7 days. Officers drew Members’ attention to Appendix 1 which demonstrated that the City Corporation was already effectively ahead of the game in this respect and had put in measures to ensure that they continued with the requirements on consultation and publicity and also to extend the response time by that 7 day period.


Officers went on to report that there was also new guidance around Local Plans, highlighting the ability for local authorities to undertake consultations electronically and using videoconferencing measures. They also referred to the potential introduction of public enquiries and examinations by virtual means. Members were reminded that, rather than trying to progress the City’s Local Plan consultation electronically at this stage, the Committee had previously agreed to hold back on consultation until after the summer recess in the hope that, by this stage, a more effective and normal consultation that could be engaged with widely would be possible.


In response to a query from a Member, Officers confirmed that site notices continued to be placed on display, facilitated at present by the City Corporation’s Cleansing Teams who continued to be active in the City. In addition, Officers continued to write to neighbours and, where necessary, extend the range of neighbours written to directly to inform them of planning applications. Essentially, it was confirmed that Officers were doing all that they could in the current circumstances to ensure that copies of documentation was available to all relevant parties and that everyone still had the full opportunity to comment on and contribute to planning applications and policy documents as and when they came forward.


Another Member stated that it would have been helpful for this information to be clarified in the report but was pleased to note that this was the case.


RESOLVED – That the Planning & Transportation Committee:


a)    Agree to the temporary suspension of those provisions of the City Corporation’s Statement of Community Involvement which require physical meetings, the physical display or the physical provision of documents; and


b)    Delegate authority to the Town Clerk, in consultation with the Chair and Deputy Chairman:


·         to review this suspension of SCI provisions following the summer recess, extending the suspension for a further temporary period if required; and


·         to agree the reinstatement of SCI provisions earlier than set out above if consistent with Government health guidance.

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