To be involved in an Examination you need to make formal written representations or comments at the pre-submission stage on the form provided by the planning authority. Before making formal written comments it is very important to be aware that the purpose of the Examination is to test the 'soundness' of the Local Plan Document. Representations must therefore be based on 'planning' considerations, and related to the test of 'soundness'.
The tests of soundness emphasise the need for evidence to back up arguments and therefore if you wish to participate in an Examination you will need to have carried out research to support your case. Examples of background material and evidence include the authority's own documents, expert opinions, and statistics. This evidence can be used in support of your comments and help you develop alternatives but it must be sent in as part of your representations at the pre-submission stage. New evidence may not be submitted once the examination starts. This should not dissuade you from bringing to the inspector’s attention an issue you feel is important and which has not already been raised in the course of the examination process. Although what representations are allowed to be considered is ultimately a determination for the planning inspector. Late submissions may still be important in some cases where they raise new and significant issues. You should be aware that consideration of alternative policies and proposals should have already taken place at a much earlier stage in the preparation of the plan (i.e. evidence gathering and public participation). This is to allow time for the necessary consultation and sustainability appraisals of the alternatives to be carried out. You may therefore wish to consider in making your comments what alternative approaches the local authority proposed at the earlier stages of plan-making and the reasons for discounting them. These earlier stages of plan-making are usually available to view on the local authority’s website.
If you make comments at the pre-submission stage, you may not need to make any further comments or appear in person at an Examination. The Inspector will take your written comments into account.
Participants who wish to pursue their comments as far as they can, may wish to employ specialist help to prepare and present their case. A list of fully qualified planning consultants can be found at www.rtpiconsultants.co.uk. Guidance is also available at the Planning Portal website.