The Department for Communities and Local Government announced on April 13 2011 an allocation of £3.2 million for the “Supporting Communities and Neighbourhoods in Planning Project”, otherwise known as the Community Planning Project.
The aim is to “give local people a real voice to shape development in their area” and to “ensure communities have the right support and advice to meet their own aspirations”. The announcement by the Planning Minister, Greg Clark MP, included specific allocations to 4 organisations/joint applications. The winning recipients and amounts allocated are:
- The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI): ££1 million.
- Locality: £814,000
- The Prince’s Foundation (PF): £800,000.
- The National Association of Local Councils/Campaign to Protect Rural England (NALC/CPRE): £620,000.
The winning organisations are expected to use existing specialities, skills, expertise and reputation to help the development of empowering groups, acting as representatives of communities, to fully understand the potential of the neighbourhood planning process (resulting in neighbourhood plans) and ensure maximum participation.
It may surprise some that the sector that planning authorities – those with the most experience of the planning process are not involved in offering advice and expertise.
It could also be suggested that the £3.2 million allocation is being directed towards organisations already with sufficient capacity to make their objections to controversial planning applications known. The government is keen to distinguish between the right of the lucky bid winners to be campaigning groups and their role as providers of advice and training.
Given that the government is keen to free up the planning process to allow larger applications a less bureaucratic process (and by definition a process with less local democratic impute) it might be considered this project is a small concession to concerns over infrastructure planning changes.
Finally, as the monies allocated are initially only for one year and that three months will be lost formulating agreements between the bid winners and DCLG there is a clear sense that some of this has been rushed.
This post is based on a LGiU members briefing written by Michael Green. Briefings are accessible to all officers and elected members of our member authorities. For more information on joining the Local Government Information Unit please follow this link