On 7th February and 20th March we held training for Community Councils. Two sessions were held at Old Viewforth in Stirling and Balfron High School. The aim of these sessions was to provide information about the planning process, and discuss the role of Community Councils. The training provided an opportunity to understand how Community Councils can best be involved in the planning process and influence decisions. Some of the topics covered included:
When involvement is most valuable
The planning application stage allows for community based consultation but this is often too late to influence proposals. Where Community Councils have greatest influence in shaping their places is with the Local Development Plan. By engaging in the Development Plan process, communities can help to shape the plan with their local priorities at the forefront.
How planning applications are assessed
In planning there is rarely absolutes or standards – planning decisions mostly involve judgement. In reaching a conclusion there is always a balance of judgements and considerations although some cases are more clearly balanced one way or other. It is unavoidable that sometimes some parties will be happy with the decision and some will not.
There are three main steps in considering a planning application:
What makes good Placemaking – why is it important in planning decisions?
We also explained the term ‘placemaking’. Placemaking is a term used in planning to describe not just how a place will look on the ground, but also how people will use the place. Good placemaking contributes to a feeling of wellbeing. Placemaking considers the physical, economic and social impacts that new development can have within the site boundary, and the contribution it can make to the wider place within which it sits. Placemaking is also a way of working, which is inclusive and collaborative, involving the right people at the right time. Some of the indicators of good Placemaking include:
Many planning decisions are concerned with making good placemaking. By you providing comments to us about what you think about a new development – a new place – based on the above principles then you will have good potential to influence many types of planning decisions. If you do that, then we will together have provided for good placemaking.
Feedback and moving forward
Staff valued the opportunity to meet with, talk to, and build relationships with members of Community Councils that were able to attend the sessions held in February. The sessions proved popular overall, and demand was expressed for more opportunities to engage with the Planning Authority in future sessions. Involvement was useful to the majority of those who attended, and feedback suggests that future sessions would be welcomed. In organising future events we’d like to know what Community Councils would find most helpful, and will consider topic suggestions in the comments below (alternatively these can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org). We would also encourage those not involved to consider engaging with/keeping up-to-date with the work of their local Community Council.
We would like to again thank everyone that participated in these workshops for their participation and attendance.