What can I do as a volunteer?
Our volunteer roles are evolving constantly to reflect volunteer feedback, the needs of those we help, and changes in the planning system.
To ensure we offer the best service and for professional indemnity reasons, only Chartered members of the RTPI can give professional planning advice on behalf of PAE. However, there are many other interesting and fulfilling ways to help support PAE which either do not include giving specific professional planning advice, or involve providing advice under the supervision of a Chartered volunteer.
The current volunteer opportunities we offer fit into the following categories:
- Providing planning advice via email as part of our volunteer-led email advice service (MRTPI required)
- Casework (MRTPI required)
- Writing and reviewing online resources and guidance
- Consultation and community engagement in deprived areas (e.g. supporting local plan consultations)
- Supporting neighbourhood / community planning activity in deprived areas
In addition to these categories, there may also be opportunity to oversee less experienced volunteers where opportunities arise (e.g. at a community consultation event) and to promote Planning Aid England services.
Volunteer-led email advice service
PAE's email advice service offers a limited amount of free, general planning advice to the public who contact us via the 'submit a request form' on www.planningaid.co.uk or via firstname.lastname@example.org. The advice service is manned by a panel of MRTPI volunteers, each of whom respond to enquiries on a rota basis – taking a morning, afternoon, or evening slot on a weekly basis. Volunteers interested in helping to deliver this service must initially complete a full day of training.
Casework volunteering involves providing planning advice on specific proposals or projects to individuals or groups deemed eligible for casework support. Advice can be provided over the phone, in writing, or in person, depending on the requirements of the case. Advice may be sought on a range of issues including making appeal applications, advising on enforcement issues and making effective representations on planning applications.
Writing and reviewing resources and guidance
This volunteering activity involves producing new or updating existing content for PAE's advice website www.planningaid.co.uk to ensure that it is kept up to date and reflects any changes to the planning system.
Consultation and community engagement
This volunteering activity involves providing a neutral facilitator role in support of local communities in deprived areas (defined as top 30% most deprived in England according to the Government's Index of Multiple Deprivation) to help them engage effectively with public consultations associated with Local Plans or large scale planning applications. It could also involve delivering capacity building workshops or specific community engagement exercises.
Supporting neighbourhood and community planning
This volunteer activity may involve delivering general training on neighbourhood planning to community groups and/or councillors. It could also involve providing bespoke support to a group working on a neighbourhood plan in an area of multiple deprivation - such as assisting with a community engagement activity or providing technical advice.
Do I need to be MRTPI?
You don't need to be a Chartered member of the RTPI (i.e. MRTPI) to volunteer with PAE, but to ensure we offer the best service and for professional indemnity reasons, only Chartered members of the RTPI can give professional planning advice on behalf of PAE. However, there are many other exciting and fulfilling ways to help support Planning Aid England which do not include giving specific professional planning advice.
If you're interested in volunteering for PAE, but not yet registered, see how to apply for details.