Communities must lead on planning

17/02/2011
Time to rethink the role of planning professionals and local elected representatives
 
 A group of respected rural policy bodies says there needs to be a root and branch change in the planning system in the UK and Ireland to allow it to re-engage with people

The report, The Power of the Plan, the Carnegie UK Trust sets out the findings of an analysis undertaken alongside leading independent rural development organisations: The Eden Trust in Cornwall, the Devon Heartlands Community Development Trust and the Tipperary Institute in the Republic of Ireland.  The report was informed by a community-led planning seminar held in Banagher, County Offaly, Ireland in November 2010. 
 
The report’s publication coincides with the unveiling of a Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for the community in influencing developments in their areas.
 
Carnegie UK Trust Chief Executive, Martyn Evans says the vision that has been developed by the group is one of a simplified planning system with local people, not planning officials or elected representatives, in the driving seat:
 
“Citizens have to be valued partners in planning processes, not an awkward lobby that is allowed to have its say only at certain stages in the process.  For this to happen, the report says local authority planning officials and councillors need to accept that the current expert-led decision making processes need to move to one that is about participation by the people who the decisions affect.
 
“Planners should not regard this as a threat.  At a time when budgets are under huge pressure, the tough decisions have to be taken and the priorities set working alongside communities – not simply communicating what has been decided to them as an afterthought.  Too often there is too big a gap in the relationship between planners and people.  This sort of innovation will surely help bridge that.”

The full report can be downloaded here- if you would prefer a hard copy please send your name and address to lucy@carnegieuk.org