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Volunteer roles

The current volunteer oppportunities we offer fit into the following broad categories:

 

Planning Advice and Casework

  • Providing planning advice on specific proposals or projects to individuals or groups. Advice can be provided over the phone, in writing or in person.
  • Advice may be sought on a range of issues including explaining how the planning system works, advising on making appeal applications, advising on enforcement issues, helping and encouraging public participation on the development of the Local Plan and other policy documents and making effective representations on planning applications.
  • Only volunteers who are MRTPI can provide advice, however, there are opportunities for non-Chartered members to assist (supported by an MRTPI volunteer).

Who would this role suit?

This role is perfect for MRTPI planners with development management and/or enforcement experience. We receive queries on a range of issues some of which require specialist knowledge for example on minerals, renewable energy, urban design or nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs). So if you have specialist expertise and are interested in providing planning advice and in casework opportunities please do let us know.

Non-Chartered planners and retired members can also assist with a case and this provides a fantastic opportunity for volunteers to use their existing skills or gain practical experience in development management issues. The number of cases volunteers assist with will vary and time commitments can range from a phone call to providing more detailed advice and assistance over a number of weeks.

Recent cases have included:

  • Assiting a vulnerable individual understand and appeal an enforcement notice for unauthorised works to his driveway
  • Helping residents of a gypsy and traveller site in London submit comments on an application for a proposed industrial building on a neighbouring site

For further information see our volunteer case studies

Consultation and community engagement

  • Facilitating meetings and workshops 
  • Assisting with the organisation of community engagement events 
  • Supporting engagement events
  • Liaising with interest groups and, for example, a Local Planning Authority or Registered Social Landlord

Who would this role suit?

This role is perfect for those with an interest in community engagement and who are passionate about planning and explaining the planning system to those of a non-planning background. Enthusiasm and strong verbal communication skills are essential. MRTPI is not required.

This role would suit a wide variety of volunteers including retired members, students and  those commencing a career in planning. It provides an excellent opportunity for volunteers to further develop community engagement skills and for retired members to share their experience and expertise with community groups and organisations. Volunteers are usually required to assist for a half day session during the day, evening or weekend.

Recent opportunities have included assisting at a Local Plan consultation event and providing assistance to a residents group concerned about proposals in the emerging Local Plan. 

Developing resource material

  • Updating existing material and producing new resource material to reflect changes to the planning system. This could take the form of briefing notes and content for the website.
  • Helping to review and  test new materials e.g. Planning Aid Direct and updates to Handy Guide to the Planning System.
  • Assisting in the production of material for training events e.g. PowerPoint presentations and associated resources.

Who would this role suit?

This role is perfect for those with an interest in marketing and communication and for those unable to assist with case work or community engagement due to potential conflict of interest. It is open to both planners and non-planners. Strong written communication skills are required as well as an ability to explain planning issues to those of a non-planning background in an interesting, accessible and engaging way. Voluntary opportunities will arise on an ad hoc basis and similarly time commitments can vary which means that volunteers should be able to fit it around other commitments.

Recent opportunities have included reviewing content for Planning Aid Direct and our comprehensive suite of Resources for neighbourhood planning: putting the pieces together. 

Delivering training

  • Devising and delivering training to a range of audiences including Parish and Town Councillors, community organisations and members of the public. The training could cover various aspects of the planning system including planning policy, development management and nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs).

Who would this role suit?

This role is perfect for those who are passionate about planning and explaining the planning system to those of a non-planning background. Enthusiasm and strong verbal communication skills are essential. MRTPI accreditation is not required.

Recent opportunities have included providing training on the planning system to Town and Parish Councillors in the West Midlands and Warwickshire, Hampshire, Suffolk and Norfolk. 

Mentoring less experienced volunteers

  • Providing support and guidance to volunteers who are new to PAE
  • This could focus on assisting less experienced volunteers with casework, for example, reviewing the advice they are to provide or answering their queries

Who would this role suit?

This role is perfect for our experienced volunteers who are enthusiastic about the work of PAE and would like to encourage and support new volunteers. This support could be provided remotely and will vary depending on the nature of the volunteer opportunity.

Neighbourhood planning support

  • Delivering bespoke support to communities developing a neighbourhood plan. This could include gathering evidence, consultation and community engagement, reviewing plan policies or providing technical support and assistance
  • Delivering training on neighbourhood planning to individuals, communities and Councillors

Who would this role suit?

This role is perfect for those with an interest in working closely with communities and with an understanding of the neighbourhood plan process. Depending on the nature of the task opportunities will be available for both Chartered and non-Chartered volunteers. 

Organising events and training for volunteers

  • Delivering volunteer training based on specialist expertise and knowledge e.g. gypsy and travellers, minerals and waste, Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Organising and assisting in the organisation and delivery of events for volunteers e.g. volunteer induction, training and social events

Who would this role suit?

This role is perfect for those who would like to encourage and support new volunteers and increase networking opportunities. Time management and organisational skills are required as well as an enthusiasm and understanding of the role of PAE.

For example, the RTPI North West Region and Planning Aid England volunteers recently organised and delivered a programme of training for volunteers working with communities on neighbourhood planning and other forms of community engagement. The sessions focussed on Strategic Environmental Assessment, community engagement and project management were very well received. 

Promoting the benefits of volunteering, sharing experiences of PAE and recruiting new members

  • Attending PAE events to discuss experiences of volunteering
  • Writing articles on experiences of volunteering

Who would this role suit?

This role is perfect for those who are enthusiastic about the work of PAE and who would like to encourage and support new volunteers. Volunteers are required on an ongoing basis and time commitments can vary. 

Promoting and raising the profile of Planning Aid England

  • Writing newsletters and articles for RTPI regional bulletins, volunteers in Planning e-bulletin and other media outlets.
  • Staffing stands at events (e.g. RTPI events) to promote PAE and encourage people to sign up as volunteers.
  • Raising the profile of PAE with Local Planning Authorities e.g. through distributing leaflets and promotional material, organising meetings with Officers and explaining the role of PAE and the support we can offer.

Who would this role suit?

This role is perfect for those with an interest in advertising, marketing and communication and for those unable to assist with case work or community engagement due to potential conflict of interest. It is open to a wide range of volunteers including those with strong written and verbal communication skills, enthusiasm for the planning system and PAE, organisational and research skills and experience of using social media. Volunteers are required on an ongoing basis and this flexibility means that volunteers should be able to fit it around other commitments.

Volunteers have recently assisted with contacting all Local Planning Authorities to inform them of the role of PAE and staffed a stall at the Civic Voice annual conference. 

Getting involved

If you're already registered as a Planning Aid England volunteer, please tell us what role you're interested in. If you're not yet registered as a Planning Aid England volunteer, you'll need to complete our registration form first.