3 Consulting on Local Plan Documents


3.1 Key Principles

3.1.1 When the Council consults people and organisations on Local Plan documents, we will be guided by the following five engagement commitments:

  1. Be clear about what we are doing - From the outset we will ensure that people understand why we are consulting and engaging them, and how their comments will help to inform or influence decisions. Clear timescales will help people understand when and how their input will be used.
  2. Be inclusive - We will provide opportunities for people to engage with us to ensure that our plans and processes reflect the diverse and varied communities that make up our Borough. Information on the Borough's community can be found in our 'Knowing Our Communities' report and our 'Council Plan', which is available to view on the Council's Population and Demographics webpage.
  3. Be accessible - We will ensure that people have opportunities to take part, and are made aware of consultation exercises as early as possible, so they are able to participate at the right time in the process to influence decision-making.
  4. Be transparent - We will make clear how the decision-making process will work and how consultation feedback will be used, thereby giving people the confidence that their input and involvement is actively being used to help shape decisions that affect them. This will mean being clear in stating who makes the decisions and when the decision will be made. At the end of each consultation period, we will undertake an analysis of all responses received. This will be included in a consultation summary report published on the Council's website, outlining the actions that we propose to take.
  5. Be accountable - We will let people know how we have reached decisions. This will involve making clear the different types and sources of information that have been considered in reaching a final decision.


3.2 Who we will consult

3.2.1 The Council is required to send details of planning document consultations to 'specific consultation bodies'. These are organisations that the Council must consult, as specified in planning regulations[1]. Appendix 1 sets out the consultation groups involved in Local Plan production.

3.2.2 There are many other people, groups and organisations that will have an interest and will want to get involved. These could include individual residents, residents' associations, Conservation Area Advisory Committees, employees and employers, housing associations, local businesses, the development industry, disability groups, youth groups, faith groups and other stakeholders.

3.2.3 These people may have a variety of different priorities and interests, and will be able to contribute expertise and knowledge across a range of subject areas.

3.2.4 In addition, the Council works closely with neighbouring boroughs and districts and the County Council with regards to strategic priorities and areas of common interest. A Duty to Cooperate Scoping Statement has been prepared and sets out those authorities and prescribed bodies the Council will engage with throughout the Local Plan process. This document can be found on our Evidence and supporting documents webpage.

3.2.5 In order to demonstrate effective and on-going joint working, the Council will prepare and maintain one or more Statements of Common Ground, documenting the cross-boundary matters being addressed and progress in cooperating with relevant bodies to address these. In line with the NPPF, these will be made publicly available throughout the plan-making process to provide transparency.

3.2.6 If you would like to be notified of future Local Plan consultation documents, you can register on our Planning Consultation Portal.

1. The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 [back]


3.3 How we will consult

3.3.1 Planning legislation and national guidance set out requirements as to how and when consultation will be undertaken and who must be consulted. Outside of this legal requirement, the Council will use the most appropriate ways of consulting with as many people as possible by balancing cost and time constraints with the likely relevance of the Plan to specific communities and/or organisations.

3.3.2 Any consultation on draft documents will be no shorter than 6 weeks for Local Plans and 4 weeks for Supplementary Planning Documents. However, should consultation coincide with a holiday period such as Christmas, the time for responses can be extended to take account of this.

3.3.3 Appendices 2 and 3 set out in more detail how the community will be invited to become involved in the stages of preparation for the Local Plan and Supplementary Planning Documents. By using a range of methods to inform, consult and involve people at the right time, we will enable people to influence the future planning of Elmbridge.

If you would like to be notified of future consultations you can register on our Planning Consultation portal

3.3.4 In line with the GDPR 2018, the Planning policy privacy notice explains who planning policy are and what the team does, what personal information is being collected, why we need it, what we do with your information and how it is shared, how long we keep your details and how to contact us.


3.4 What happens to your comments?

3.4.1 All comments received in response to a consultation will be fully considered. Changes to the document will be made where appropriate during the course of their preparation in light of comments we receive. We may contact the person or organisation who made comments in order to discuss their views and suggestions further.

3.4.2 All written comments received within the consultation periods will be made available to view. Comments cannot be treated in confidence and we will not accept any confidential or anonymous responses. In order to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018, personal information will not be made publically available.

3.4.3 We will not acknowledge submitted comments unless requested. We will not accept or publish any comments that are considered offensive or prejudiced.

3.4.4 A consultation report summarising comments and a response to the issues raised will be made available on the Local Plan web pages.

3.4.5 All comments received at the submission stage in the preparation of a Local Plan are submitted to an independent inspector[2] together with the document itself, and all supporting evidence used in is preparation. The inspector will consider whether the document meet the tests of soundness set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.

2. The Planning Inspectorate deals with planning appeals, national infrastructure planning applications, examinations of local plans and other planning-related and specialist casework in England. It is an executive agency sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. [back]


3.5 Neighbourhood Planning

3.5.1 Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDPs) were introduced by the Localism Act 2011. They allow local community bodies (Parish Councils or Neighbourhood Forums) to set out a vision for a neighbourhood area and planning policies for the use and development of the land. They focus on local rather than strategic issues.

3.5.2 As they are not prepared by the Council, the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) does not prescribe what methods of community engagement must be followed. The appropriate level of community engagement and the size and complexity of the plan will be decided on by the Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum preparing the NDP. Nevertheless, NDPs should follow, wherever possible, the general principles set out in the SCI and publish a Consultation Statement explaining how the local community was involved in the NDP.

3.5.3 Appendix 4 sets out in more detail how the Council will publicise NDPs. As a brief summary, the Council is required to consult on the following stages during the preparation of NDPs:

  • Neighbourhood Area Application - the Council will publicise the application for the creation of a neighbourhood area. We will bring the neighbourhood area application to the attention of people who live, work or carry out business in the area.
  • Neighbourhood Forum Application - the Council will publicise the application for the creation of a neighbourhood forum on our website for a minimum 6 week period.
  • Draft NDP- the Council will publicise the draft NDP on our website and invite comments, as well as bringing the consultation to the attention of people who live, work or carry out business in the NDP area. In addition we will notify the bodies referred to in the Neighbourhood Forum or Parish Council's consultation statement.


3.5.4 The Council will offer support, advice and assistance to the Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum throughout the process of preparing the NDP. The support offered will be tailored to the needs of the group, but may include attendance at meetings, providing information and advice by e-mail and over the phone and directing the group to external sources for advice and assistance.