SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN PLANNING
84. A range of training, support and advice is available to planning authorities, developers and the public.
85. Planning Aid for Scotland provides a free, independent and impartial planning advice service (subject to eligibility criteria), and delivers a range of training events aimed at everyone, including young people, community groups, community councils, Social Enterprises and business start-ups as well as planning professionals and Councillors. Planning Aid for Scotland is a volunteer-based organisation which achieved Investing in Volunteers status in October 2008. Contact details are available at Annex 1.
Planning Aid for Scotland's training programmes aim to stimulate interest in planning issues, as well as providing knowledge, unravel planning policy and procedures, and explain how to get involved effectively e.g. writing effective representations. In 2006 Planning for People gained an award at the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning and in 2007 Planning to Act® received a commendation. PAS has also developed SP=EED, a benchmarking tool for community engagement in planning. More information on all programmes are available from the PAS website www.planningaidscotland.org.uk
86. As well as ensuring their staff have the necessary skills, planning authorities should consider giving assistance to communities, either though direct funding or support in kind to organisations such as Community Councils, or to provide training and awareness raising events.
87. Planning authorities provide a discretionary administration grant to the Community Councils in their area. Supplementary grants for various projects and purposes, or supplement their support indirectly, such as producing newsletters, providing computers, accommodation, or typing and other administrative services may also be provided.
88. Planning authorities should build on the support of existing council networks. Opportunities for planning authorities to share community engagement expertise and to use specialist facilitators for some activities should also be considered. The expertise of Community Learning and Development providers is a good resource which can used to help build the capacity of people to engage. Providers can be contacted through the local authority.
89. Planning authorities have a role in providing training for their Community Councils, other community groups and individuals to improve understanding of and participation in the planning system. In addition, the Scottish Government provides core funding to Planning Aid for Scotland, an independent voluntary organisation, which provides training and advice on planning matters to individuals and groups across Scotland.
Sources of Information and Advice
90. Some of the main sources of advice and information are noted below. Their contact details are noted in Annex 1.