Headlines: March 2nd, 2004

A new training package will be offered to local councils from today aimed at helping them to understand the needs of developers and to know how best to engage with the local community. The one-day simulation programme has been piloted in the West Midlands and is being launched today at the joint LGA-National Planning Forum annual conference.The programme – Financing the Urban Renaissance’ – has been developed by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA), in partnership with the Local Government Association, the British Property Federation, and ContinYou, a new charity for community learning. It is part of the continuing drive to improve standards in planning, and the understanding between developers and local planning authorities,

The simulation exercise allows councillors and council officers look at a proposed development in a fictional town, taking on the roles of planners, developers and the local community. This type of learning aims to break down barriers caused by the different languages spoken by planners and developers, their different priorities and timescales and their ways of operating.

Paul Wheeler, the Assistant Director for Member Development at the IDeA said the exercise was a great example of how the specific development needs of councillors and officers working in planning could be met in an entertaining but cost-effective way. Councillor Susie Kemp, chair of the LGA’s Planning Executive stressed the importance of anyone involved in the local planning decision-making process being able to understand developers’ points of view and to be aware of the impact failure. “I hope that opportunities to experience the planning process through the eyes of another will help improve future development applications that could lead to revitalised communities,” she said.