We are pleased to share that good progress is being made with the Soho Neighbourhood plan. Our Plan is currently being reviewed by an independent examiner, appointed by our local authority, Westminster City Council. The purpose of an independent examination is to consider whether the
proposed neighbourhood plan meets the basic conditions and other requirements set out by law.
The examiner will be considering whether the plan: has regard to national policy; contributes to the achievement of sustainable development; is in general conformity with the adopted
strategic local policies for the local area; meets human rights requirements. Also the examiner has to consider all the representations made and whether any changes to the Plan are needed in the light of them. Following the examination, the examiner will issue a report to the local authority and the neighbourhood planning body. If the plan meets the basic conditions, the examiner will recommend that the plan proceed to the referendum stage. Please see the examiner’s letter below setting out the process.
INDEPENDENT EXAMINATION OF THE SOHO NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
|Examination Ref: 01/JK/SNP 14 September 2020|
SOHO NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN EXAMINATION
Following the submission of the Soho Neighbourhood Plan (the Plan) for examination, I would like to clarify several initial procedural matters.
- Examination Documentation
I can confirm that I am satisfied that I have received a complete submission of the Plan and accompanying documentation, including the Basic Conditions Statement, the Consultation Statement and the Regulation 16 representations, to enable me to undertake the examination.
Subject to my detailed assessment of the Plan, I have not at this initial stage identified any very significant and obvious flaws in it that might lead me to advise that the examination should not proceed.
- Site Visit
I intend to undertake a site visit to the neighbourhood plan area (subject to on-going government advice) during the week commencing 21 September 2020. This will assist in my assessment of the draft Plan, including the issues identified in the representations.
The visit will be undertaken unaccompanied. It is very important that I am not approached to discuss any aspects of the Plan or the neighbourhood area, as this may be perceived to prejudice my independence and risk compromising the fairness of the examination process (and further respecting the current COVID-19 distancing arrangements).
- Written Representations
At this stage I consider the examination can be conducted solely by the written representations procedure, without the need for a hearing. Nevertheless, I will reserve the option to convene a hearing should a matter or matters come to light where I consider that a hearing is necessary to ensure the adequate examination of an issue, or to ensure that a person has a fair chance to put a case.
- Further Clarification
I have a number of initial questions seeking further clarification from the Neighbourhood Forum, set out in the Annex to this letter. I would be grateful if a written response could be provided by 28 September 2020.
- Examination Timetable
As you will be aware, the intention is to examine the Plan (including conduct of the site visit) with a view to providing a draft report (for ‘fact checking’) within 4-6 weeks of submission of the draft Plan.
However, in view of the additional information which I have requested I must provide the opportunity for you to reply. Consequentially, the examination timetable will need to be extended. Please be assured that I will seek to mitigate any delay as far as is practicable. The IPe office team will keep you updated on the delivery date of the draft report.
If you have any process questions related to the conduct of the examination, which you would like me to address, please do not hesitate to contact the office team in the first instance.
In the interests of transparency, may I prevail upon you to ensure that a copy of this letter is placed on the Neighbourhood Forum and Local Authority websites.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.