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The revised National Planning Policy Framework introduced the requirement for Statements of Common Ground to be prepared as part of the preparation of local plans (including minerals and waste plans), spatial development strategies and marine plans.
A SCG will form part of the evidence to demonstrate that an authority has complied effectively with the Duty to Co-operate. It should demonstrate that authorities have engaged constructively and on an ongoing basis on strategic cross-boundary matters in the preparation of their plans. A SCG will document these strategic matters and the progress being achieved to address them and will provide a written record of how the Duty to Co-operate is working.
The SCG should also show the capacity within the strategic policy-making authority area to meet identified development needs and the extent of any unmet needs. Agreements (or disagreements) between authorities about the extent to which unmet needs can be redistributed within the wider area will need to be recorded.
You may be assured that several IPe advisors have already acted as independent facilitators for a number of draft SCGs that have been produced.
Experience points to the use of an independent facilitator providing a good basis for testing the robustness of a draft SCG, ensuring that all relevant strategic matters are being covered. It provides an opportunity to critically assess how effectively the Duty to Co-operate is working, and where there may be some shortcomings.