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Last revised August 14, 2022

This is through the Pre Application Community Involvement process called Pre App CI.


Bristol City Council, as Local Planning Authority, have adopted the following procedure:

  • For Planning Applications above 10 dwellings or 1,000 m2 of commercial floor space, or a mixture of the two, a developer is now expected to involve the local community in discussion on the planning and design of the scheme and on any obligations on the developer to contribute works or finance in the locality that might be necessary to accommodate or mitigate the impact of the scheme (called Section 106)
  • The developer should meet with local planning groups ‘at the early ideas stage’, be­fore proposals are fixed in the type of use, site layout and design of scheme, ’when significant options are still open and can be identified’ and ’while there is still the potential to make a difference to the final option selected’ .
    This is Ground rule 5 of the Statement of Community Involvement November 2015.
  • Involvement should be a continuous process with the timetable for the period of …. making the planning application made clear in advance to the participants.
    Ground rule 3 of the Statement of Community Involvement November 2015.
  • The developer is required to submit a Community Involvement Statement (CIS) with the Planning Application for a Major Development.
  • A record of the meetings, and main issues raised in discussionsis made and submitted by the developer with the Planning Application as his Community Involvement Statement. The CIS should also set out how the design has changed in response to the community response, or if not, why not.The Planning Officer is, therefore, aware of any concerns that the community have about the proposed development and can see whether the developer has tried to address these concerns by changing the proposed design. He will be able to use this information in his report which is presented to the Planning Committee when they make their decision whether to approve or reject the Planning Application.
  • The community can also make suggestions about what works or financial contributions might be needed to ‘mitigate the impact’ of the development. (called Section 106) Since 1 January 2013, the developer is also required to contribute towards the infrastructure costs through the Community Infrastructure Levy, CIL

What is the advantage of this new pre application involvement process?

Previously, the community would only be able to comment on a planning application during the statutory consultation period after a Planning Application is submitted.

There is little opportunity to affect or change a proposed development once a Planning Application has been made, so most planning groups have concentrated on opposing developments that they feel will have an adverse impact on their neighbourhood.

Since the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act and Bristol City Council’s adoption of the Statement of Community Involvement in October 2008, and reviewed in November 2015, the community is able to be involved before Planning Application stage.

This means that members of the community can talk to the developer and make him aware of issues that their community feel important in consideration of development in their area.

The local planning authority has also changed the way it works from Development Control to Development Management, and expects developers to talk to them and make a pre application enquiry to find out what the planning issues are about a particular development proposal or site.

There is an advantage to all parties;

  • the community may be aware of, or hold strong views about, issues that the developer would not otherwise discover until too late, and
  • the community may have local knowledge about the site that would affect the development
  • the community may be able to convince the developer to design a scheme that is welcomed by the community.

Should all developments have Pre Application CI discussions ?

The Local Planning Authority expects the developer of any

  • major (10 residential units or 1,000 sq m of commercial floorspace or a mixture of the two) or
  • super major (100 residential units or 10,000 sq m of commercial floorspace)

to have Pre Application Community Involvement (Pre App CI) discussions and to submit, with his Planning Application, a Community Involvement Statement (CIS) giving details of the discussions he has had and how they have affected the design.

This means that, before the developer applies to the Local Planning Authority for permission to develop a site, he or his agent will have a series of discussions with the local community about his proposals for development.

This will be done through the local planning group identified through the Neighbourhood Planning Network (NPN).

How does a Pre App CI discussion start?

A Pre Application Community Involvement discussion may start in one of three ways:

  • The developer may make a pre application enquiry to Bristol City Council as Local Planning Authority
  • The developer may tell the NPN administrator that they would like to discuss a proposed development with the relevant group
  • The developer may directly approach a Neighbourhood Planning Group

The Local Planning Authority informs the NPN Administrator and local Councillors of all Pre Application enquiries for major and supermajor developments.

In this case, or if the developer directly approaches the NPN, the NPN Administrator will confirm which local residents’ planning group or groups should be involved in Pre Application Community Involvement discussions and will give their contact details to the developer.

The NPN administrator will also give guidance about Community Involvement process to the developer.

How can the community get involved?

Pre Application Community Involvement (Pre AppCI) discussions should be held at a very early stage, ‘before specific proposals are made, when significant options are still open .. and while there is still the potential to make a difference.’ Ground Rule 5 (p6) SCI.

For the meetings to be effective, a small number of people, able to understand and communicate about local planning issues, have a series of meetings with the developer to raise issues and to identify the best methods of public consultation.

Members of the local Neighbourhood Planning Network (NPN) residents’ planning group have been identified as the best group to engage with at the earliest stage. Other members of the community are therefore encouraged to work with their local residents planning group to raise issues that they consider important for the group to consider when looking at development proposals in their area.

What is the best way to organise Pre App CI discussions?

Pre App CI Guidance
How to Pre App CI checklist of things to remember when involved in pre app CI discussions

What is a Community Involvement Statement?

For major developments and developments that have a locally significant impact, the developer is required to submit a report of the meetings that he has had with the local planning group and community. This is called a Community Involvement Statement CIS.

A CIS must be submitted in order for the planning application to be validated. It is posted on the Planning Online website with the other planning application documents.

The CIS must set out what meetings were held, what issues were raised and how the design has been changed in response to those issues, or if not why not.

Why does a planning group sign off a developer’s Community Involvement Statement?

The CIS is a record of the discussions and the issues that were raised by the planning group. The group signs it off as a true record of those discussions so that the planning officer can see how the developer has responded to the community’s input. If the CIS is not signed off by the local group, the case officer cannot be sure that the record is correct.

How does a Planning Group make a Counter Community Involvement Statement?

A planning group that has been involved in pre application community discussions with a developer can submit a counter statement if they are not prepared to countersign the developer’s CIS because they cannot agree that it accurately describes the Community Involvement Process; the group can send their own CI statement to the planning officer for it to be included in the Planning Application documents.

The counter CIS should give information about why you think the process was incorrectly reported- eg if the developer reported meetings or events that didn’t take place with the group,

or if the developer has not reported what issues the group raised and how the application has been changed in response to those issues, or if not why not.

Guidelines for Developers

Bristol City Council has drawn up a set of Guidelines for community involvement for the developer.