The London Forum of Amenity & Civic Societies —members of Just Space and one of the partners in our campaign to defend democracy & participation during the pandemic— has sent this update, reporting on their survey of London Boroughs by Paul Thornton:
“Following … two Zoom meetings and the many contributions from member societies, we have consolidated the current state of play and our recommendations on best practice in an interim report available on the London Forum website via this link.
In general, the picture is better than we might have imagined. The transfer of Planning online has gone reasonably smoothly, it has had benefits as well as drawbacks, and some of our greatest concerns (greater use of delegated powers, loss of speaking rights at Council committees etc) have either not materialised or been confined to a handful of boroughs.
The information about the changes brought on by Coronavirus on most boroughs’ websites, though, is poor. It may well be there somewhere, but it is mostly poorly organised and hard to find. We have therefore included in the above document a model of what should be included, and how it can be made more accessible. We will email this to the Head of Planning Service and the Chair of the Planning Committee in each London Borough in the next couple of days.”
In the full report (linked in para 1 above) is also the finding that few councils have given much thought, if any, to how community participation can be maintained, let alone improved – though there are a few positive signs and some suggestions from the Forum.