Meet the team

Clare_optClare Symonds (founder and Chair) has been recognised in the Scottish Sustainable Development Forum’s Green List for her work to improve community engagement in Scottish planning. Clare has worked on community empowerment issues in both local government and the voluntary sector strengthening her belief that a robust, democratic planning system is crucial for shaping fairer and more sustainable places.

Daya Feldwick (Community Network Coordinator) coordinates our community peer support network. With a background in community education, youth work and other community projects, Daya is an experienced activist and campaigner and passionate about local democracy. She has witnessed first-hand communities experiencing disempowerment and disillusionment with planning issues. She believes that local communities must become more organised and more strategic when engaging with the planning system, both locally and nationally. Daya develops a range of online resources for the network and helps to connect communities across Scotland experiencing common problems and injustices of the planning system. You can read more about Daya (Introducing our New Community Network Coordinator) and contact Daya.

Sue_optSue Hamilton (Secretary) lives in Limekilns in Fife. She cares deeply about issues of justice, and has worked as a volunteer in the Fair Trade movement for thirty years. The subject of her MBA dissertation was the management of the relationship between big business and the local community. In her role as secretary of the community council she has seen enormous changes in the planning system. For all the worthy words that are spoken about consultation, she perceives that local communities feel increasingly alienated from the planning process. She was involved in a public inquiry into the proposed development of a container terminal at Rosyth.

Iain_optIain Thom (Treasurer) has worked for six years in Scotland’s voluntary sector campaigning for social and environmental justice. He became interested in planning while working for Friends of the Earth Scotland where he helped write the first community guide to the new planning system in Scotland.

Andy Inch (Trustee) is currently a Research Fellow in the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lisbon. Before moving to Portugal he was a lecturer in the Department of Town and Regional Planning at the University of Sheffield from 2010 until 2016. His research focuses on the politics of planning and urban development, including issues around public participation and planning reform in Scotland. He is currently interested in exploring how we imagine and shape the futures of our cities and how participatory research can contribute to more equitable and sustainable planning.

Helen_optHelen McDade (Trustee) joined John Muir Trust in 2005 and is now is Head of Policy. JMT is a UK charity whose aims are to protect and enhance wild land and increase awareness in society of the value of wild places. Her work involves campaigning for better policy regulation to protect all wild areas and has increasingly involved working on planning and strategic energy issues, due to the rapid increase of proposed energy developments which would impact on wild areas. She has been a witness at five Public Local Inquiries for the Trust. Helen has been personally involved in a local (unsuccessful) campaign to try to stop planning permission to demolish a Victorian building of merit. Her interest in Planning Democracy is both professional and personal as she believes that current planning process needs to be much more transparent and democratic.

Nick_UnderdownNick Underdown (Trustee) was a local reporter on the Isle of Arran, where he first covered local land and marine planning issues, including fish farming, affordable housing, rural transport, land reform and marine conservation. He has since worked for a fishery trust and as a marine policy and engagement officer for Scottish Environment LINK, which involved campaigning for a progressive planning system for Scotland’s seas. He now works for Open Seas. He has experience as a community councillor (for Maryhill & Summerston) and is interested in the links between terrestrial and marine planning as well as how fair, open and democratic planning processes can balance the influence of private capital during public decision-making.

Malcolm Spaven (Trustee) is a planning graduate with 20+ years experience of working with developers, including compiling environmental statement chapters and serving as an expert witness at planning inquiries. He has seen the way the planning system works, mainly from a developer’s perspective. He is also the planning representative for his community council and for the Midlothian Federation of Community Councils, where he has gained experience of how the planning system works (or doesn’t) from a community perspective. He is interested in helping Planning Democracy  develop its work on improving the planning system for communities, both in the current Scottish Government review of the planning system and beyond.

Anne_optAnn Coleman (Honorary Trustee) lives in the village of Greengairs in North Lanarkshire, a community that hosts more than its fair share of the least desirable developments. She is an active member of her local community council and had the great privilege of being awarded an MBE for services to Environmental Justice and her local community in 2004. For the past 14 years, she has been committed to the principle that there should be equality for the public voice in the development of their neighbourhood.