Placing Neighbourhood Planning at the heart of the planning system represents an exciting new challenge for the profession, not just in terms of the type of policy documents and plans that are prepared but, perhaps more fundamentally, the way they are prepared.
Communities now have a real opportunity to develop plans and shape proposals for the places they live in. This perhaps means that the traditional role of the planner might need redefining – from one of planning and managing change to one of facilitation, communication and indeed mediation. The profession will need to adopt a wider, all embracing role that can lead on all aspects of the agenda.
We must ensure that this new approach to planning does not just pay lip-service to communities, but fully embraces ideas and opportunities as a force for good. It is only through a local – or neighbourhood – based approach that we can get under the skin of an area. Many commentators have suggested that Localism is no more than a charter for Nimbyism. But is the opposite in fact true: this could be a real opportunity to proactively engage residents and community groups and help deliver meaningful change at a local level.
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