We trust you all have had a very good Christmas, and are full of festive cheer, ready to settle down to read our festive blog post, cunningly timed to arrive during the in-betweeny period before new year, when you are no longer frantically rushing around and hopefully are feeling a bit relaxed.
Unless of course you are busy responding to some sort of consultation like the Strategic Transport Review, which has been ‘strategically’ designed to fit in with the Christmas holidays, thanks Transport Scotland, great timing!
This year has definitely been one of two halves for Planning Democracy.
The first half saw the long awaited Planning Act (Scotland) 2019. We found it incredibly disappointing not to have won our campaign for Equal Rights of Appeal, but we took comfort in the fact that our voice had most definitely been heard and we had a few reasonably significant wins.
The second half of the year has allowed us time to regroup and to capitalise on the energy and enthusiasm of our network. It has given us so much joy to be working with you on our Peer Support project and seeing some real positive results of our collaboration and support.
The funding for this project will be coming to an end next year, but we are confident that Planning Democracy’s peer support work will grow, indeed if anything the past year has demonstrated a definite need to do so.
So we extend our thanks to this great bunch of folk who have supported individuals, groups and community councils who have come to us asking for support and advice
Since June our peer support network have helped people
- Present their case to councillors which resulted in ancient woodland protection in the Local Development Plan.
- Consider community buy out of land to protect habitat area for red squirrels.
- Share knowledge on planning with newly elected BME community councillors.
- Oppose harmful fish farming developments in several island communities, to get the attention and support of local councillors
- Protect badgers from a local development, finding out who owns the land and working closely with local people and Scottish Badgers to set up monitoring.
- Understand how to do a grassroots community led local place plan
- Challenge incorrect housing numbers allocated in development plan resulting in protection of greenbelt
- Get technical information on minimising light loss from a proposed development
- Gain confidence to respond to a complex application
- Understand better how to build community while doing a local place plan
- Consider new options on how to gain co-operation with developers on planning conditions
- Contact MSP species champions to help protect wildlife threatened by development
- Get support from their local community to fight a damaging development
- Understand community empowerment legislation on participation requests
- Feel energised to get support when feeling alone on a planning issue
- To find out who owns land giving the opportunity to speak to landowners about an application
We have loved working with our peer support mentors, and its great to see them getting some personal gains from the project too. As one of them said to us in a text “This project is giving me a real lift and motivation to do so much more in life. I had lost all meaning – now I have something for me again.”
The times we have had together has really enhanced the sense of solidarity and unity we get from working with community groups and individuals from all over Scotland.
This year we really appreciated the wider movement we have built with you all. Often, we have heard you making known your views, whether it be to local authorities, Scottish Government policy makers, professionals and community groups in all manner of ways at events, in letters, consultations and so on. Your values and concerns often very much chime with our own, messaging and demands, giving us confidence that we are a true voice of the community. When we hear people talk about PD in a way that clearly shows you feel part of us, we know we are succeeding.
You are the heart and soul of Planning Democracy.
If you want to know more about us, our hearts and souls, and our work please do get in touch.
2020 will be an important year as we try to influence the regulations being drawn up detailing and enacting the new legislation, trying to make the most of the current system. We have important work to do to provide the much needed support, advice and empathy to people who are trying to influence planning decisions, often as they realise just how much the system is agin them. And we need to continue to campaign for more fundamental change in the way we as a society approach planning and development of our country, so that one day perhaps there will be no need for our peer support service.
We need your generosity to continue this work, please consider making a regular donation to our work, this makes a huge difference to us and allows us to help you in the end too.
Finally, a date for your diary the evening of 4th February 2020 will be our annual gathering in Glasgow (venue tbc). An opportunity to meet like minded people including the peer support mentors and to help us plan our year ahead. Also a chance to find out more about the new Environmental Rights Centre being developed in Scotland from two of the new staff brought in to initiate this most exciting of projects.