Portishead Neighbourhood Plan Submission Consultation

Portishead Neighbourhood Plan 2022-2038

Appendix 2: The Portishead Pre-Application Community Engagement Protocol

The aim of this Protocol is to do all possible so that new development in Portishead Neighbourhood Area helps to shape good quality places to live and work and as a means of working towards improved outcomes for the current and future communities. One particularly effective way of achieving this is through early, planned engagement with the community via the Town Council.

Use of this Protocol is without prejudice to the eventual judgement of Portishead Town Council on the merits of any final application, even if a good engagement process has been agreed and followed.


National Planning Policy and Guidance: The National Planning Policy Framework (2021) makes several mentions of the considerable value of pre-application involvement, for example in paragraph 39:

“Early engagement has significant potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning application system for all parties. Good quality pre-application discussion enables better coordination between public and private resources and improved outcomes for the community.”

The Planning Practice Guidance Note Design: process and tools (2019) also highlights the importance and benefits of early engagement:

“Communities can effectively shape both design policies and development through a collaborative process of meaningful participation. Early engagement and linking engagement activities to key stages of design decision-making and plan-making can empower people to inform the vision, design policies and the design of schemes.”

“It is important that local planning authorities or applicants demonstrate how all views are listened to and considered.”

North Somerset Council – Statement of Community Involvement (2019): The SCI explains the Council’s policy on consultation and involvement in the preparation of planning policy documents and planning applications.

The 10 Commitments for Effective Pre-application Engagement published by a group representing planning, industry and community groups states that:

“Early, collaborative discussions between developers, public sector agencies and the communities affected by a new development can help to shape better quality, more accepted schemes and ensure improved outcomes for the community. These discussions also avoid wasted effort and costs.”

Whilst there is an emphasis on early and positive pre-application engagement in ‘major development’ proposals, it is the view of Portishead Town Council that, for their community, the above should also apply to smaller developments in the town because these can have at least as much impact as larger ones. Portishead Town Council fully supports and endorses all of the above and will play its appropriate role in delivering high quality preapplication engagement with themselves and the wider Portishead community as proposals come forward.


Drawing from the 10 Commitments and other guidance on best practice, potential applicants should work with Portishead Town Council to fulfil the following principles:

  • ‘Day One’ contact: By far the best results for all emerge when contact is made with our Town Council, and through us with our local community, at the very start of any process; consulting people late with already prepared schemes is not productive.
  • Agreed Process: A key aim of this early contact is to discuss and agree the nature, scope, timetable, information and so forth of the engagement – i.e. the process to be followed.
  • Applicant Leadership but Shared Responsibility: Although it is the applicant’s role to lead and fund engagement, the Town Council will offer as much support as possible to any agreed process; for example by providing local information, contact details for local groups, advice on meeting places, access to newsletters and so forth.
  • Openness and Transparency: Building trust between all and ensuring an agreed outcome depend heavily on having a process that is as open as possible on all sides, though the Town Council will respect any issues of clear commercial confidentiality.
  • Agreed Community: A project may have an impact on a limited number of people or on the whole town. The details of those to be involved will need to be discussed and agreed for any project, as will the potential ways to contact and engage them.
  • Agreed Scope: There will also need to be agreement about the scope of the engagement, i.e. what is and is not open to change (e.g. layout, quantum of development, design etc.).
  • Proportionality: The nature and scale of engagement will be balanced in appropriate proportion to the scale and likely impact of any proposals.
  • Final Reporting: The applicant should submit, with any final application, a thorough report describing and summarising the outcomes of the engagement, demonstrating how the proposals have (or have not) responded to results. If they have not, a short note should be included to explain this. If the process has been followed fully, Portishead Town Council will endorse this report; if not they may submit their own evaluation of it.

Initial contact should be made at the very outset with the Town Council via: office@portishead.gov.uk

The Town Council commits to doing all possible to arrange an initial meeting as soon as possible following this contact.

There is considerable benefit for applicants in also sharing any process with North Somerset Council, as planning authority, and securing their agreement to it. As per the opening proviso, endorsement of an engagement process and results does not necessarily mean support for the resulting proposals.