Deputy prime minister John Prescott has agreed to hand over £3.8 million of funding to support Planning Aid, the organisation that dishes out free planning advice to members of the public.
The move will come as a fillip to local campaigners and 'nimbys', groups that often turn to Planning Aid for technical support in arguments with local developers.
The latest cash hand-out means Planning Aid, which is organised in partnership with the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), will continue to provide free and independent advice, officially aimed at 'disadvantaged communities'.
Planning minister Keith Hill insisted the aid was essential to keep the planning system democratic. 'It's crucial that the planning system is accessible to all, so everyone in the community can be involved in delivering sustainable communities,' he said.
'This extra £3 million funding from ODPM recognises the valuable role of Planning Aid, which is enabling individuals and community groups who would otherwise be excluded, to engage with the planning system,' the minister added.
And the chair of Planning Aid for London (PAL), Robin Crompton, agreed. \We are very happy that the ODPM has extended the grant from 2006 to 2008, which allows our partnership with the RTPI to continue,' he said.
'PAL, with over 30 years' experience giving free and independent planning advice, will use these resources to continue to provide innovative and creative methods of engaging local communities in the planning process and advice on casework,' he added.by Ed Dorrell