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Free advice for communities to support neighbourhood planning

Communities are getting a supportive boost to help make their neighbourhood vision a reality through a new scheme offering free access to expert…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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!

Notes to editors

The Prince’s Foundation

The Foundation has a long history of successful projects based on the principles of community engagement. It believes that development can be both positive and enjoy popular support if it is the result of an engaging discussion with the local community and based around the local identity.

The services offered by Prince’s Foundation through the grant will ensure they offer case specific solutions to communities based on live workshops with community groups and local authorities.


The Building Community Consortium will be led by Locality in partnership with Glass House Community Led Design, the Eden Project and The consortium will provide unparalleled knowledge, reach, skills and expertise in supporting disadvantaged and marginalised communities to engage with the built environment and the planning systems. It will provide support and networking to community groups through online resources and other networking tools, practical workshops and seminars, and tailored advice via a telephone advice line and other packages of support. The consortiums knowledge, skills and expertise can be found across a network of more than 1000 community-based organisations.

The Royal Town Planning Institute

The Royal Town Planning Institute will make the planning process more accessible and empower individuals, neighbourhoods and communities, especially those who are economically and socially disadvantaged, to become involved in shaping where they work, live and play.

It will provide free, independent, impartial, professional planning advice to people who do not have the means to pay professional fees. It will also provide support and training to local communities to influence and contribute to planning strategy, policy, and decision making at all levels, helping them to bring forward community planning initiatives. The service will promote and deliver good practice in community engagement be delivered through an extensive network of Planning Aid England and Planning Aid for London volunteers.

National Association of Local Councils in partnership with the Campaign to Protect Rural England

The advice and assistance offered by the NALC/CPRE partnership will draw on the strength and experience of its network of county branches and parish councils to enable local communities to better understand the planning system and share best practice.

As well as providing basic information about the planning system via a national website, a phone line and targeted publications, the grant will fund a programme of local events which will help inform local communities and parish councillors about how to influence local plans. The aim will empower local people and encouraging communities to take a more active and influential role in making plans for their areas.

The grants being made under the Supporting Communities and Neighbourhoods in Planning project are:

  • £1m The Royal Town Planning Institute
  • £814,000 Locality
  • £620,000 National Association of Local Councils in partnership with the Campaign to Protect Rural England
  • £800,000 The Prince’s Foundation


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Published 13 April 2011