We’ve had a number of comments from yourselves [residents] over the weekend and in the past couple of days regarding the consultation form and how to respond to the current consultation. Particularly those that came in over the weekend did raise a legitimate point that people are perhaps unfamiliar with interactive pdfs. The reason for using an interactive pdf is that it is a universal file format, so it would work on virtually all permutations of operating systems and software. It also is a means whereby the format of the form cannot be altered by those filling it in which makes sure that everything is clear. This means that those using Apple systems would be able to use it. Paper copies of the form will continue to be available at the Havant Public Service Plaza (next to the drop in session banners) or at the drop in sessions. We do not place paper copies of the form in other buildings (such as Lidl for example) because there’s no way of knowing if more are needed etc. For the avoidance of doubt, when we sent out the bulletin publicising the consultation on 1st Feb, this was sent to the 3,349 people who had requested to be kept up to date through our website and the 22 people who had requested to be kept up to date by letter.
We have listened to the comments regarding the form and so on Monday created a word processor version of it. That’s now available on the website and a mailout just went out (see below) so that anyone who wants to submit comments can use whichever form they’d prefer. For the absolute avoidance of any doubt, we are not looking to disenfranchise anyone or put in place measures which mean that people feel they cannot respond. We will do everything we can do to make sure that our residents can respond within the systems that we have available to us (which does not include ios).
At this point, we are getting around 20 to 30 responses a day so consider this healthy. However experience tells us that with consultations such as this, the bulk of them will come in the few days before the deadline anyway. We haven’t generally had questions by phone, email or at drop in sessions regarding the consultation form. We have listened to you as community representatives and taken action as a result, however the message has not come through from residents. It is also worth highlighting that we have put on significant help and support for residents through the consultation making guidance, drop in sessions and email/phone support available. There isn’t a need to provide support yourselves, particularly if you’re struggling yourselves with the concepts of legal compliance and soundness. We have two remaining drop in sessions available (tomorrow and Saturday) so would suggest that if anyone comes to you with queries about how to respond to point them to:
The guidance online of course
Email us (email@example.com) or call us on 023 9244 6539
Come along to one of the two remaining drop in sessions (details below)
There’s also been questions raised regarding legal compliance and soundness, particularly what they are and how our residents are supposed to comment on this. It is pertinent to highlight the process of producing a Local Plan. Particularly at the Draft Local Plan stage, residents were asked about what would make the plan better and how to make it as good as it can be. There were a lot of comments, all of them were considered and addressed. We took forward a lot as well and if you compare the Pre-Submission Plan to the Draft Local Plan you’ll see a significant difference. The vote on 30th January determined what the Local Plan should say following all of these responses, the evidence base and the work to date. Moving forwards, the examination, which this consultation is essentially the first stage of, is concerned with legal compliance and soundness only. So this is all that can be considered.
The question of what legal compliance and soundness are is more common for us. The guidance that we’ve produced, particularly the How to submit your comments booklet, sets this out. However in a nutshell (this is in the guidance), legal compliance is about how we’ve produced the plan, soundness is about what is in the plan. For the avoidance of doubt though, these are the only matters that can be discussed at this stage.
The Council has consistently gone well above and beyond what is required by us from the relevant regulations in terms of engagement with the local plan process. The guidance and drop in sessions are not measures that we are obligated to take. Nonetheless, it is the right thing to do.
I hope this is helpful in setting out the way forward.
All the best
Planning Policy Manager
Havant Borough Council, Civic Centre Road, Havant, PO9 2AX
Tel: 023 9244 6174