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Support for Community-led Planning

The research examined the views and experiences of local communities, local authorities and those who have been actively involved (both volunteers and staff) in Planning Aid England (PAE) in the West Midlands.

The research was conducted for the West Midlands Region by the University of Reading.

A briefing is now available from this project.

Key findings

The aim of the research was to reflect on how community-led planning could be best supported by PAE West Midlands in a changing environment, especially given PAE's extensive involvement in neighbourhood planning. Although the research focused on the West Midlands region, the findings and implications could apply across England.

The context for community-led planning

The current environment is characterised by funding cuts, local government reorganisation, policy change and the localism and devolution agenda in planning (including neighbourhood planning). Taken together, this means that there is a need to organise and mobilise community engagement more efficiently and effectively.

As a result, the research considered ways in which PAE could evolve to meet the challenges of this new environment and the priorities identified by communities and local authorities.

This research has generated a range of possible recommendations for consideration, for both PAE and the RTPI regionally and nationally.

PAE West Midlands and RTPI West Midlands

In order to reflect and make the most of this environment, there is a need to raise the profile of PAE West Midlands, with each local authority in the region as well as with community groups and other organisations and networks. This would help to generate intelligence and identify opportunities for useful support activity. Volunteers could be actively involved in this intelligence gathering process.

Relatedly, there is a need to reflect on the roles, scope and messaging about PAE and its work, especially to emphasise its unique purpose and value.

Some targeted activity, such as demonstration projects, would be well-received by recipients/clients and could serve to raise the profile of PAE. Such projects could built on for future activity and used as learning materials for other communities/PAE regions.

PAE nationally and the RTPI

PAE nationally and the RTPI corporately could do more to draw on the knowledge and experience of neighbourhood planning activity that PAE has amassed in the past five years. This knowledge and skills could be applied selectively to particular stages and tasks in neighbourhood planning, and used to target PAE West Midlands support to high priority areas and communities.

Volunteers

There is an opportunity to strengthen the regional support capacity, such as inviting volunteers to ensure the RADAR approach of intelligence gathering and needs awareness is functioning.

About the research

The research examined the views and experiences of local communities, local authorities and those who have been actively involved (both volunteers and staff) in Planning Aid England (PAE) in the West Midlands.

The aim of the research was to reflect on how community-led planning could be best supported by PAE West Midlands in a changing environment, especially given PAE's extensive involvement in neighbourhood planning. Although the research focused on the West Midlands region, the findings and implications could apply across England.

The research included a desk study and a series of focus groups and telephone interviews with volunteers, staff, communities and local authorities. Some but not all of these groups had some previous experience of PAE.