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News release from: 25/03/2024

Statement of Community Involvement formally adopted

Statement of Community Involvement formally adopted

South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils have formally adopted a new key planning document – which sets out how they will help residents have their say on a wide range of planning matters during the next five years.

This Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) has been prepared by the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service. Councillors have said that increasing participation in planning will always be good for communities and this SCI sets out how the Councils will achieve this.

A draft version of the SCI was open for public consultation from 18 October to 29 November 2023, inviting residents of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire to share their perspectives on how they could actively participate in planning decisions. During this period, two in-person consultation events were held, providing opportunities for face-to-face discussions, while an online webinar facilitated a virtual question-and-answer session with council representatives.

The feedback gathered from the public during the consultation period played a crucial role in shaping the final version of the SCI. The councils carefully considered the comments and suggestions received, ensuring that the document accurately reflects the people of Greater Cambridge. The Councils aspire, through the aims of the SCI, to:

  • Ensure that engagement is managed efficiently by consulting at the earliest possible stages of the planning process, providing clear information about the proposals and by conducting early engagement with Councillors, stakeholders, community groups, applicants, and individuals in a meaningful way.
  • Set clear and concise objectives of consultations in order to be transparent by keeping people informed, being clear on what the councils are asking for responses on, publishing outcomes, and setting realistic timelines for consultations and being open and clear about decision making.
  • Be proportionate and cost effective in resource and promote best practice by exploring new and evolving methods of consultation and communications including digital to engage more easily with local communities.
  • Ensure consultation is inclusive, fair, equitable and supports local communities in feeling heard through consultation methods that are consistent to all, including those people without access or find it difficult using digital communication.
  • Be accountable in the decision-making process, by explaining how the responses to consultations will be considered, how people will be informed of outcomes or decisions, and ensure that the planning stages are robust, justified, and consistent.

The new SCI marks a significant milestone in Greater Cambridge Shared Planning’s efforts to strengthen community engagement in planning matters. Through extensive consultation and collaboration, the shared service between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils has crafted a framework that empowers residents to play an active role in shaping the future of Greater Cambridge.

Cllr. Dr. Tumi Hawkins, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Planning Policy and Development Management, said: “Engaging with our communities in the planning process is very important. It enables us to hear their views and take those into consideration in making decisions that affect how land is used and developed in Greater Cambridge.

“This Statement of Community Involvement goes much further than our current SCI. It ensures that the diversity of our residents and their views and aspirations are reflected in our emerging joint Local Plan as well as how development proposals are prepared, assessed, and determined.

“I commend this statement and look forward to working with our residents, businesses, developers and other stakeholders in using it effectively to create great places across Greater Cambridge.”

Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Cambridge City Council’s Executive Councillor for Planning, Building Control and Infrastructure commented: “It is vitally important that everyone knows how to influence development in our area and make their voice heard. I am very pleased that we now have such a clear statement of how the Councils will ensure that residents, businesses, local organisations, and visitors are properly consulted as we decide what to build, what to change, and how to create the best possible spaces within which we can live, work, learn, and play.

“Elected members endeavour to continue to work closely with Planning Officers to make sure that we work in a transparent, trustworthy, and effective way, and the practices outlined in this important document demonstrate our ongoing commitment to serving the people of Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire.

“I am very pleased to have this updated document setting out the Councils commitment and procedures for involving our communities - residents, businesses, local organisation, and visitors - in the complicated process to build new buildings and create the best possible places. It’s through a concerted effort by everyone involved in planning that we can work towards improved transparency and arrive a place of mutual trust.”