The government will fund the Prince’s Foundation to provide free planning advice to neighbourhood groups as part of a £3.2 million programme announced today
Patronised by the Prince of Wales, the charity is one of four organisation in line to share the CLG grant-funding pot which has been earmarked to support those providing expert advice and guidance to communities wishing to establish neighbourhood groups.
The selection of the charity to spearhead the government’s localism agenda – which aims to boost public involvement in the planning system – comes despite criticism of its patron for his attempts to influence the planning process, described by a high court judge as ‘unexpected and unwelcome’ for his role in the Chelsea Barracks debacle.
Hank Dittmar, chief executive of the charity which will receive £800,000, said: ‘The Prince’s Foundation has long been an advocate of the importance of community engagement and we are delighted to have been awarded such a significant proportion of the Communities and Neighbourhood Planning Grant.
‘Empowering local communities is now a welcome part of the planning process, and this grant will enable The Prince’s Foundation to use its extensive track record to help people plan in a positive way for growth and better neighbourhoods.’
Under the programme, the Prince’s Foundation will provide free impartial advice and practical workshops to local authorities and community groups.
The project aims to ‘empower’ communities to develop effective neighbourhood plans by boosting understanding of the planning process.
Planning and decentralisation minister Greg Clark explained: ‘It is vital that grass root community groups are able to access specialist support and advice if their vision for their neighbourhood is to be truly realised.
‘Making sure community groups have free access to a number of organisations means they can choose the experts that best suit their needs.
‘All four organisations are specialists in their field and will provide an invaluable service to groups around the country, helping them to drive development and growth around their aspirations.’
The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), consortium group Locality and the National Association of Local Councils in partnership with the Campaign to Protect Rural England were also chosen to advise the public.
Richard Summers, president of RTPI, added: ‘We welcome the announcement made today. This funding will allow the RTPI’s Planning Aid England service, in conjunction with Planning Aid for London, to provide information, advice and support to disadvantaged individuals and communities in shaping their neighbourhoods over the next twelve months.’