Embarrassed council managers have apologised, admitting `we made a mistake ` after the wrong covering letter was sent to residents as part of planning consultation on future development. The Daily Mail reported on `Sir Humphrey ` being alive and well at Epping Forest District Council after the letter was sent to local residents.
“I am sorry. We slipped up. The letter, full of technical planning jargon should not have been sent to local residents, said John Preston, Director of the Council`s Planning Service.”
He continued: We did try to write the attached guide in `Plain English` but we dropped our guard on the covering letter that went with it. We are very keen to engage local residents fully in the preparation of planning policies, which will continue to help to control development and protect the Green Belt. The planning system is increasingly complex and involves new processes and terms which remain unfamiliar or frankly quite baffling to the wider community.
The council will contact residents again shortly. John Preston said: It is very embarrassing but some people at least will see a funny side to it. Every profession has its `Sir Humphrey ` language and planners are no different but we understand that you have to alter your words according to your audience. This consultation could have far reaching consequences for the future of our district, setting policies on where to build new homes and businesses as well as protecting the countryside. It is the start of a quite lengthy process with more consultation to follow. Hopefully, the extra publicity provided by the Daily Mail will give the consultation a boost in responses.
Full details of the consultation and questionnaire are available from the Planning Area of the Council’s Website.
Text of the correct letter that was circulated as an e-mail to local residents is reproduced below:
“The Forward Planning team at Epping Forest District Council is in the initial stages of preparing a Core Strategy for the district. This is the key new planning policy document which will look ahead to 2031, and eventually replace the Local Plan.
“All new planning policy documents need to be subject to Sustainability Appraisal. This is an assessment of the likely economic, environmental and social effects of the new policies. The Sustainability Appraisal provides information to help judge whether the new policies are the most appropriate for the district, and whether changes should be made.
“In preparing the Sustainability Appraisal, its scope and level of detail need to be agreed before it is used to assess issues, options and policies. It is a statutory requirement to hold a period of consultation on the scope of the Sustainability Appraisal, the purpose of which is to ensure that all the relevant issues and concerns have been included.
“The consultation period is from 17 May to 18 June 2010. The consultation document, a short guide and the online response form is available from http://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/Council_Services/planning/forward_planning/LDF.asp
“If you have any queries about this consultation, please contact the Forward Planning team on 01992 564517 or at LDFconsult@eppingforestdc.gov.uk .”