The examples which follow set out just a small sample of the types of projects we have been commisioned to undertake, in the areas of:
There are many other types of planning support we have provided to local authorities, parish and town councils and other consultants and we would be happy to discuss with you how we can help you satisfy your project needs through our tailored support.
We have provided support to over 40 neighbourhood plan groups across the south west. Support to neighbourhood plan groups can be provided in a number of ways and we tailor our support to suit the skills, capacity, pace and resource availability of individual groups. The examples below showcase just a few of the ways in which we can support groups with professional advice, guidance and capacity.
Advice throughout the process, drafting plan content and submission documents
We provided support for the South Petherton Parish Council (South Somerset) neighbourhood plan steering group from the start of the process until the submission of the plan. Support focused on project planning, guidance on the process, evidence gathering and consultation, planning advice on policies and potential development sites and policy and plan drafting. We also drafted the Submission documents for the Parish Council and advised the Neighbourhood Plan Support Officer employed by the Parish Council for the duration of the plan’s development. The plan is now “made”.
Advice throughout the process, development of evidence base, plan content and submission documents
We provided consultancy support to Dunkeswell Parish Council (East Devon) from the start of their neighbourhood plan journey through to the plan being “made”, providing practical advice and drafting various outputs such as evidence base reports, policies, the plan and other submission documents. The Dunkeswell Neighbourhood Plan is now “made”.
We provided consultancy support to Stockland Parish Council (East Devon), from the start of the process through to submission, providing practical advice and drafting various outputs such as evidence base reports, policies, the plan and other submission documents. The Stockland Neighbourhood Plan is now “made”.
Advice on policy development
Stonehouse Town Council (Stroud, Gloucestershire) approached us in 2016 to provide short-term support and independent planning advice to help shape their emerging policies for the neighbourhood plan. The plan is now “made”.
“Critical friend” review of emerging plan and the process followed
We were commissioned by Holt Parish Council in Wiltshire in 2015 to provide a “critical friend” review and gaps analysis of their initial draft plan and policies and the evidence base produced to support it. The Council's plan is now “made”.
Advice on process and the review of a technical housing sites appraisal
We were commissioned in 2016 to provide Wedmore Parish Council in Sedgemoor, Somerset, with an independent review of the work they had done on the plan’s development to ensure that there were no gaps in the process followed or outputs they had produced up to that point. We were also asked to provide an independent critique of their technical assessment of potential development sites to ensure that the process and tests they had undertaken were robust and line with good practice.
Evidence base review, advice on assessing housing need and identifying key issues
Ruishton and Thornfalcon Parish Council in Taunton Deane, Somerset, commissioned our support during 2017 and 2018 to review the evidence base material they had gathered, identify any gaps and provide evidence reports to help fill those gaps. We also provided an opinion on the need or not for a housing needs assessment, set against the context of the Government’s consultation on the revised housing need methodology and the associated proposal for local authorities to provide neighbourhood plan groups with housing need data relevant to their plan area. Subsequently we were also asked to produce a report identifying and documenting key issues and messages from the evidence base and consultation, which the group has used to inform and evidence the emerging objectives and vision for the plan.
Delivering training sessions for steering groups
We have delivered numerous training sessions for parish / town councils and steering groups. One example is support provided to the North Tawton Parish Council (West Devon Borough) neighbourhood plan steering group where, as well as guidance on policy and plan drafting, much of the early support focused on attending steering group meetings to advise the group on the process and deliver presentations on how best to work through key stages and outputs demanded of the process and the tasks they would need to undertake to arrive at a robust and sound plan.
"Draw down" support
We have provided neighbourhood plan support to many parish and town councils during their neighbourhood plan journey on a “when needed” basis. This amounts to a providing a combination of desk-based, phone, email and / or face-to-face support, depending on the questions that arise during the process and technical and time-consuming tasks that emerge during the process on which neighbourhood plan groups require professional support and / or capacity.
Swindon Borough Council commissioned us in 2016 to provide independent expert advice on how best to develop stages A and B of a Playing Pitch Assessment in order to ensure conformity with Sport England’s Playing Pitch Strategy guidance and to take data and consultation responses gathered during those stages, analyse it and produce an extensive assessment report covering quality, supply and demand, quantity, capacity and future needs / demand. From this assessment, we developed a Playing Pitch Strategy and interactive and prioritised Action Plan which can track the progress of key actions and deliverables and their impact on remaining capacity need during the strategy period. During the strategy’s development, we worked closely with the steering group (comprising the Borough Council, NGBs, Swindon Sports Federation, Wiltshire and Swindon Sport (WASP) and Sport England) to provide a succinct strategy written in “plain English”, underpinned by extensive primary data and consultation evidence. We were subsequently commissioned to provide analysis of data to project the strategy’s identified demand forward to align with the Local Plan period to 2026.
In autumn 2015 we were commissioned to produce the Taunton Deane Borough Playing Pitch Strategy and Action Plan, produced in line with Sport England’s Playing Pitch Strategy guidance. We were involved through the duration of the project (through Stages A to E of the guidance methodology), working closely with the Borough Council, NGBs and Sport England to provide a succinct strategy, underpinned by extensive primary data and consultation evidence. During the project, Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership (SASP) worked with us and the steering group to provide local perspectives on provision “on the ground” as well as an input into the pitch audit process. During consultation in addition to gathering club data via online questionnaires, we interviewed the largest clubs in the Borough to ensure that we understood the key issues that clubs were experiencing. As part of the commission, we developed an interactive Action Plan which officers and the wider delivery team can use into the future to measure the impact of actions and interventions on supply, demand, capacity and quality as actions are explored further and delivered.
We were commissioned in 2013 (with the Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership) to produce a single joint strategy for Bournemouth Borough Council and Borough of Poole (with separate Action Plans) covering built facilities, playing pitches and ‘non-traditional’ sports (including water sports, off-road cycling, parkour, BMX, informal park sports and wheel parks). We explored the ‘on the ground’ issues of importance to clubs, leagues, users of facilities, volunteers, spaces & pitches, the local authority (officers and Members), the education sector, NGBs and Sport England and ensured that Sport England’s required methodology was followed, conducting surveys, face-to-face and telephone interviews and on-site quality audits. We developed a bespoke approach for assessing the impact of international students on provision and on the raft of ‘non-traditional’ sports and activities based on experience elsewhere and Sport England guidance on pitches and facilities. The result was a robust strategy and action plans, verified at key stages during its development by NGBs and Sport England, which sets out individual strategy elements for each sport or facility type and which has explored the interactions between different sports across shared facilities, spaces and pitches and across the breadth of different providers - and most importantly what that means for addressing existing and future needs and demands spatially across the two Boroughs. We were commissioned in 2017 by Active Dorset to update the playing pitch elements of the strategy to provide up-to-date evidence to support the development of the Boroughs’ Local Plans and to ensure conformity with the requirements of the new Playing Pitch Strategy guidance, published since the joint strategy was produced.
In 2018 we were commissioned by Wellington Town Council and partners (Taunton Deane Borough Council, Wellington AFC, Wellington RFC and Wellington CC) to explore options to establish a new football club “hub” site which can accommodate the club’s needs now and in the future and in turn also enable both the cricket and rugby clubs to then consolidate and grow on their existing home grounds. The study focused on initial feasibility work to assess the planning merits, constraints and opportunities of three sites, potential layouts of pitches and facilities, estimated capital and revenue costs and opportunities for funding.
In 2018, we were commissioned by Burnham-on-Sea & Highbridge Town Council to work with town councillors and a cross-section of community and business interest groups in Burnham-on-Sea to produce an evidenced Business Plan, shaped by local consultation, to support bids for substantial amounts of funding aimed at economic and sea-front regeneration projects.
University of Hertfordshire
Since 2013, each year we have been invited by the University of Hertfordshire to present a day of lectures to postgraduate students covering a wide range of topics such as the history of and current planning system, planning law and policy, governance structures, effective consultation and methods of engagement, what is “good planning”, the challenges of delivery, components of well-designed places, planning for active lifestyles and development economics. The lecture is provided as part of a 3 day postgraduate and CPD module on “Place Making and Spatial Mediation”.
Presentations to neighbourhood plan seminars
We have twice been invited by the Community Council for Somerset and the Somerset Association for Local Councils to present independent planning advice to a series of neighbourhood plan seminars aimed at informing parish and town councils about the neighbourhood plan process and also about the relationship between neighbourhood plans and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). We have also delivered a presentation on the neighbourhood plan process to a neighbourhood plan seminar hosted by East Devon Borough Council.