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Free advice for communities to support neighbourhood planning

Free advice for communities to support neighbourhood planning

Published 13 April 2011

Communities are getting a supportive boost to help make their neighbourhood vision a reality through a new scheme offering free access to expert advice and guidance, Planning Minister Greg Clark announced today.

New powers being introduced in the Localism Bill will give local people a real voice to shape development in their area through a neighbourhood plan, from determining the locations of shops, offices and schools to setting the standards of design for new housing.

To ensure communities have the right support and advice to meet their own aspirations, Mr Clark has today announced four organisations with renowned expertise in planning who will share a £3.2m fund to provide assistance to local groups developing neighbourhood plans.

Communities can choose to take up free advice and guidance depending on their needs through The Prince's Foundation, Locality, The Royal Town Planning Institute, and the National Association of Local Councils in partnership with the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Each organisation will use its expertise, skills and track record advising on development to empower communities to reach the full potential of their neighbourhood plan from start to finish, from understanding the planning process and finding local solutions through to developing clear documents and building community support. This will include free impartial advice, practical workshops with local authorities and community groups, tailored on-line resources, networking tools and telephone advice lines.

Greg Clark said:

"It is vital that grass root community groups are able to access specialist support and advice if their vision for their neighbourhood is to be truly realised. Making sure community groups have free access to a number of organisations means they can choose the experts that best suit their needs. All four organisations are specialists in their field and will provide an invaluable service to groups around the country, helping them to drive development and growth around their aspirations."

Examples of work to support communities through the planning process include:

The Granville New Homes Resident Steering Group received training and support from the Building Community Consortium, which is led by Locality, during a £1bn regeneration project in South Kilburn, London. The award winning development delivered 130 new homes, a small park and a purpose built youth centre for the community.

The Prince's Foundation helped the community at Camp Hill, a former mining community in North Warwickshire, bring together the local council, developers and partners to develop a master plan which delivered a number of physical and social improvements for the town.

Hank Dittmar, Chief Executive of The Prince's Foundation, said:

"The Prince's Foundation has long been an advocate of the importance of community engagement and we are delighted to have been awarded such a significant proportion of the Communities and Neighbourhood Planning Grant.

"Empowering local communities is now a welcome part of the planning process, and this grant will enable The Prince's Foundation to use its extensive track record to help people plan in a positive way for growth and better neighbourhoods."

Steve Wyler, Chief Executive of Locality, said:

"We're delighted to be selected as one of only four partners to deliver the Government's Communities and Neighbourhoods in Planning Scheme. Our approach will enable communities to access highly specialised, independent advice and support from a nationwide pool of experts, helping them to find local solutions to local needs and change the built environment around them for good."

Richard Summers, President of The Royal Town Planning Institute, added:

"We welcome the announcement made today. This funding will allow the RTPI's Planning Aid England service, in conjunction with Planning Aid for London, to provide information, advice and support to disadvantaged individuals and communities in shaping their neighbourhoods over the next twelve months."

Cllr Michael Chater, Chairman of the National Association of Local Councils, said:

"The National Association of Local Councils wants local people to be able to shape the places they live in. We are therefore delighted to be part of this scheme. Our work over the coming year, with the lead partner, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, will help people understand the positive role that local and neighbourhood planning can play in bringing about appropriate development, while also protecting our environment. The message is: get involved in planning how our towns and villages will look in the future!"