It's becoming harder and harder for many councils to sustain development projects while they are facing tough financial times with planning, building control and parking revenues falling. Some councils have also had setbacks as part of the global economic downturn and all are seeing decreased support from central and regional government.
Community Planning is an excellent tool to enable councils, at parish, town or district level, to tap into local community resources, lever in additional grant support and deliver 'soft' economic and social development projects that can support local businesses, environment and heritage. These are the kinds of development projects that local communities need in times of recession.
In Cirencester, the community planning process yielded a 160% return on the Town Council's investment in its first half year of operation. The Town Council made a financial contribution of around ?32K but this was more than offset by
in-kind contributions and grant funding. In-kind contributions were mainly volunteer support from local community members. Between September 2008 and March 2009, over 880 volunteer hours were logged. That is the equivalent of 24 weeks of full time work or a value of ?34,150.
Community Planning can also serve as the basis for major grant proposals which typically seek to demonstrate community involvement. In-kind contributions can serve to off-set match funding requirements and it is thus possible, using an evidence based approach, to lever in significant funding for very low cash outlays.