MORE than 31,200 people and almost 1,100 organisations were helped by free and independent planning advice service Planning Aid in the last year - according to latest figures.
Planning Aid provides professional planning advice to individuals and community organisations who cannot afford professional fees so that they can engage effectively with the planning system.
Its Annual Review found that 31,264 people and 1,087 organisations were helped by Planning Aid across England in 2008/09.
The total number of people engaged by its core activities – which are helping and advising on planning issues and supporting community planning events – rose by 15 per cent on the previous year.
More than 4,400 individuals and groups called its help lines for assistance in the last 12 months.
Planning Aid's Programme Manager John Rider-Dobson said: \"We have reached out to groups who in the past may have felt excluded from the planning system, empowering them to positively shape their local areas.
\"Over the past six years Planning Aid has helped over 125,000 people and increased funding from Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will enable us to reach even more people next year.\"
Planning Aid received £3.4 million of core funding from DCLG in 2008/09. The service beat its DCLG set target of organising 870 community planning events and activities in the year by 34 per cent.
Click for further information about Planning Aid.