Edinburgh Planning Concordat Engagement Fund – very small uptake

Edinburgh Council’s Planning Committee agreed in August 2013 to provide small grants (around £300) to assist community councils in carrying out engagement on major applications*. Recently, the Planning Committee stated that it’s received only 2 applications for such grants. It has asked CCs:

  1. Is there a particular reason why you have not applied for grant assistance to engage with the wider community?
  2. Are there any changes to the rules which would make it easier for you to apply for assistance?
  3. Any other comments?

*As far as the author of this post is aware, the Edinburgh Planning Concordat is the framework for this assistance.

Leith Central CC’s planning subcommittee suggested the following reasons:

  • available funds are insignificant compared to developers’ resources
  • the timescales to deploy any funds are often very short: CCs who will often struggle to submit a considered response, don’t have time to think about applications at this point
  • unless a consultation can address all relevant households (efficiently and reliably), any quantitative results are statistically irrelevant (or even unreliable, as we can’t check the authenticity of individual responses); so we rely on old-fashioned qualitative methods – small numbers, but free
Of course, CEC could automatically pay a consultation grant to a CC (proportionate to scale of application) as a major application is being submitted (and the processing fee is collected).