Planning - pre-application consultation requirements - proposed changes: consultation analysis

Analysis of consultation to obtain the views and opinions of stakeholders on the proposed changes to the Pre-application Consultation (PAC) regulations and other matters relating to PAC.

4. Impact Assessments

4.1 Introduction

4.1.1. The consultation included four questions on impact assessment which are analysed in the following sub-sections:

  • Section 4.2: the partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) and the combined Equality and Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (EQIA/CRWIA) – Q16 and A17
  • Section 4.3: the screening paper on Island Communities Impact Assessment – Q18 and Q19.

4.2 BRIA and Combined EQIA/CRWIA

4.2.1. The partial BRIA examined the costs and benefits of the proposed changes to PAC. The proposed changes will help to improve engagement with the public. They will mean increased costs for prospective applicants, but there will also be exemptions in some circumstances. The estimated overall annual net cost of the changes is £3.5 million.

4.2.2. Doing nothing in the face of the concerns over PAC which emerged in the planning review is not considered tenable. Hence, the proposals are considered to represent a proportionate response to the concerns.

Q16. Please give us any views you have on the content of these partial BRIA and EQIA/CRWIA?

4.2.3. There were 19 comments received on the content of the partial BRIA and EQIA/CRWIA. Some specific comments were made in relation to each of the impact assessments which are summarised below.


4.2.4. A number of points were made in relation to the costs associated with the BRIA:

  • The costs appear to be proportionate to deliver better and more effective community engagement (planning authorities and developer). A planning authority also felt there could be some additional savings to developers with some added minor flexibility on PAC exemptions.
  • The BRIA should consider the wider costs associated with PAC as a result of the applicant augmenting or changing a development proposal as a consequence of PAC (public and representative bodies).
  • The summary cost of the proposals is inconsistent between the detailed costs in the main text of the assessment for the cost of an additional public event. This implies that the total cost should be £3.5 million rather than £3.2 million (public and representative bodies).
  • It would be useful to have an indication of the costs and benefits of the temporary emergency COVID-19 measures regarding online consultation to help inform the proposed approach which requires two public events (planning authority).


4.2.5. A number of points were made in relation to the EQIA/CRWIA:

  • The proposed changes will help to address how different sectors of society can be empowered to better engage with the planning process (planning authorities).
  • The commitment that guidance will cover complementary approaches to engagement is welcomed and it is hoped that prospective applicants take a more inclusive and considered approach to meeting the procedural requirements (public and representative bodies).
  • It would be useful to develop the guidance on other aspects of diversity and establish practical ways it can be brought into the PAC process e.g. recommending having diversity statements at PAC events, non-technical statements about the process and development and the potential for online language translation (planning authorities).

4.2.6. A few respondents (community councils and public representative bodies) felt that the "do nothing" option is not viable if an improvement in PAC procedures and mechanisms is to be achieved.

Q17. Do you have or can you direct us to any information that would assist in finalising the BRIA and EQIA/CRWIA?

4.2.7. There were 9 comments made in response to the request for additional information that would assist in finalising the BRIA and EQIA/CRWIA. Additional information may be available from:

  • Organisations representing developers may be able to assist with BRIA. Applicants submitting relevant applications during 2019 may also be able to help.
  • Organisations representing different elements of diversity in communities may be able to help with practical options for inclusion.
  • Planning authorities could provide an estimate of any additional costs for the authority in dealing with the new PAC requirements.
  • A company providing modular changing places toilets.
  • European rights of the child.

4.2.8. A few suggestions were made for additional research. Some recent major applications across a number of authorities should be examined to understand how they were handled. This could provide the basis for "best practice" for the final impact assessment process. It was also suggested that applicants should revisit their developments once they are complete to establish if what was proposed has been delivered.

4.2.9. It was also suggested that there should be more publicity of the BRIA and EQIA/CRWIA material e.g. it could be available in schools, church halls etc. to maximise awareness of any PAC. Community councils could also publicise the material or call a public meeting to inform residents. Note: This appears to assume such documentation accompanies applications rather than being assessments of the legislative changes.

4.3 Island Communities Impact Assessment

4.2.10. The consultation also includes a screening paper on Island Communities Impact Assessment. The proposed changes to PAC are not considered to have a significant impact on island communities in particular.

Q18. Please give us your views on the Island Communities Impact Assessment screening paper and our conclusion that a full assessment is not required.

4.2.11. There were 17 comments on this question. Several respondents (individuals, community councils, developers and public and representative bodies) agreed with the conclusion that a full assessment is not required, although a number of responses were qualified as the respondent did not live on an island and therefore felt they may not be best placed to comment. Online events may be preferred for some participants in some remoter areas although online connectivity can be an issue in these areas.

4.2.12. A few respondents (community councils) disagreed with the conclusion that a full assessment is not required. Reasons to require a full and comprehensive impact assessment included the impact on small fragile communities could be disproportionate given the island environment, no area (island or otherwise) should be excluded from a full assessment and issues relating to broadband, mobile signals, remoteness etc. should be resolved in an inclusive way. Note: again it is not clear that some respondents may have thought this assessment related to individual proposals rather than the legislative changes.

4.2.13. One respondent highlighted the benefit of e-consultation in providing wider access to communities who may not be able to travel to physical events. However, the challenges of e-consultation should be recognised (e.g. connectivity issues) and consultation in island communities was recommended via a letter drop.

Q19. If you considered that a full Islands Communities Impact Assessment is required, please suggest any information sources that could help inform that assessment.

4.2.14. There were five comments in relation to information sources that could help with a full assessment. A few community councils suggested that there was a need to work with island councils, community councils and local residents' groups. Population and demographic surveys were suggested to determine the long-term viability of the communities and the need for housing.

4.2.15. It was also suggested that when an application is relevant to both mainland and island communities, the island community should have its own public event. This would be additional to the mainland event and could take the form of a mobile exhibition touring the island.



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