This is an important document which sets out the approach Merton Council takes to involving local people and organisations in development and planning issues.
We’ve welcomed the long overdue review which will replace a 13 year old document that does not meet today’s expectations for deeper and earlier community engagement in planning decisions.
We are calling for a step change in Merton Council’s approach which, in our experience, rarely exceeds legal compliance and sometimes even falls short of this. This discourages community engagement, frustrates those who do engage, and ultimately results in less well informed and poorer planning outcomes.
We have identified an array of current problems and inconsistencies in Merton Council practice.
These range from squeezing the time available for the public to speak at Planning Committee to a quality of online public access to planning documents that falls well short of other local authorities.
Merton Council allows significant changes to planning applications to be made without publicity, blocks resident representations on planning applications appearing online and often provides inadequate summaries of public views in reports presented to councillors.
It also fails to make good use of design tools which can involve people in setting local expectations, such as masterplanning and design codes. We are clear in our reponse that we expect prospective developers to be put in touch with local community groups before they submit planning applications.
Merton Council’s draft Statement of Community Involvement states that “Merton’s local communities are those that are most likely affected by development in their local area and more importantly, know the most about their neighbourhood and how they would like it to grow and be shaped for the future.”
These are fine words. We are asking for changes to make the effective engagement of Merton’s local communities a reality.
Read our submission to Merton Council’s draft Statement of Community Involvement –Statement of Community Involvement – Dec 19