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Planning Aid England (PAE): Moving forward supporting communities and individuals

18 May 2015

PAEAn update from Rosslyn Stuart, RTPI Director of Professional Standards and Development.

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PAE continues to empower communities and individuals to help them engage with the planning process with the support of our volunteers. Our volunteers are at the heart of everything we do and have been for more than 40 years. They show an unrivalled level of commitment which is the envy of so many other professional bodies. With the drawing to an end of the neighbourhood planning contract, PAE moves into an exciting  new phase of its development. Our record of providing planning aid services in many different forms, now stretches back to their start in 1973. What we do might change over time but one thing remains constant: our partnership with our volunteers will ensure that together we will continue providing world-class planning advice and support for communities and individuals. Here is what we will be doing:

Our volunteers are at the heart of everything we do and have been for more than 40 years. What we do might change over time but one thing remains constant: our partnership with our volunteers will ensure that together we will continue providing word-class planning advice and support for communities and individuals.

Neighbourhood planning

Two years ago, PAE embarked on the delivery of the Supporting Communities in Neighbourhood Planning (SCNP) contract. This incredibly successful work is now coming to an end. 

The current year sees PAE again a member of the successful consortium contracted by DCLG to deliver the Neighbourhood Planning and the Community Right to Build Support Programme 2015-16/18. The contract reflects lessons we learned from the SCNP and has a distinct emphasis on supporting groups in deprived areas, now through provision of direct funding as opposed to direct support. PAE’s contribution will therefore be different in scale and content, and largely delivered by staff.  We will continue to add to the stock of neighbourhood planning tools and guidance, both through this contract and where gaps in provision are identified.

PAE’s acknowledged expertise in neighbourhood planning led to it being commissioned by the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) to deliver a suite of new support tools for community groups, which you can view here. They are a welcome addition to our range of online resources and further support PAE’s mission to empower local communities to engage with the planning process and influence decisions that affect their local area.

Working directly with regions


Additional investment by the RTPI in PAE resources this year sees a newly enhanced team of three permanent staff - Kat, Brian, and John - working directly with our regions, supporting our volunteer members to develop and deliver PAE services that can be regionally distinctive, and designed to address particular regional circumstances.  See the new team and their roles.  

PAE teamOutreach is a key area of PAE activity that we will be working to develop substantially across all English regions. This is generally proactive work, centres on community planning and capacity building and like neighbourhood planning, offers volunteering opportunities to many categories of volunteer. We will continue to support neighbourhood planning groups as the contract winds down.

Get involved – we need you

We know that casework is much valued by our service users, and wish to grow the number of Chartered volunteers in all regions to help us tackle and provide solutions to important casework.  If you are interested we have more information on our volunteer roles and opportunities

Planning Aid Direct (PAD)

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PAD is growing in popularity and provides a free web resource. It offers answers to questions people often ask about planning; clear, simple explanations of how the planning system works; and signposting on where to go next.

The Advice Line

We operate an advice service and offer a limited amount of free, professional, general planning advice. In some circumstances we may be able to offer further help by Planning Aid England’s team of professional volunteers.The Advice line is now dealing with over 2,800 queries per annum, and our 1000-plus volunteers support members of the public across the country by providing independent expert advice when enquiries turn into casework. Details on our advice line as well as our eligibility criteria for further support can be found here.

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