A project in the West Midlands: training for parish and town councillors
Planning Aid England Volunteers in the West Midlands have been exploring ways to support groups and individuals who cannot access appropriate planning advice and, more widely, to deepen understanding of planning in the public interest.
Over the last 12-18 months we have worked with the Warwickshire Association of Local Councils (WALC) in training parish and town councillors on how to make more effective responses to planning applications. Comprehensive training is provided which covers, for example, an overview of the NPPF and then more detailed information on the planning application process.
The sessions close with a chance for the Councillors to put their learning into practice! A variety of case studies are used including:
- applications for extensions
- a single dwelling in a conservation area
- development in the Green Belt
Participants are asked to identify the material considerations and then vote on how they would have decided the application.
The sessions have proved to be very popular and well received with around 40 participants attending each four hour session. Participants found the sessions to be 'very useful and relevant' and their only frustration was that there was 'not enough time to explore in depth'.
Participants found the sessions 'very useful and relevant'
Now that we have developed a workable format – which will doubtless improve further – we intend to look at rolling it out to similar bodies in other counties in the West Midlands.
These sessions could not be delivered without the support of volunteers and they provide an excellent opportunity for people to develop their presentation and engagement skills. We are always looking for more volunteers so if this sparks your interest please see How to apply.