Planning Volunteer

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Organisation: CPRE Somerset

Location Somerset, Somerset, BA5 1TU
Where the role is based Mainly at home
Travel limit Volunteers must be based in Somerset
Opportunity type Ongoing role
Reference number J55801

Opportunity description

We are looking for people with an interest in planning who have good local knowledge and a love of their countryside.  This is your chance to look after your local patch and make a real difference to its future.

The role

Local Planning Volunteers help CPRE Somerset with our core work - investigating planning applications which have a significant impact upon the countryside and helping us influence their outcome.

Main duties /responsibilities of the role:

  *  looking at lists of planning applications to identify threats and opportunities
  *  reviewing plans and applications on the internet
  *  visiting sites and recording details
  *  sending the information, and your thoughts, to CPRE Somerset
  *  occasionally visiting the local planning office to look at plans and record details
  *  taking part in training to get familiar with the planning system and learn how to
     investigate a planning application

As skills are developed, volunteers will be encouraged to:
  *  draft letters to the local planning authority
  *  research planning policy and best practice; and
  * assist CPRE Somerset in planning research.


Required skills

  • Planning
  • Research

Person description

All of our Planning Volunteers are different.  Some actively scan the weekly list in their area for planning cases that significantly affect the countryside whereas others prefer to wait until CPRE is contacted by a concerned local resident and then we ask the volunteer investigate the case in more detail. 

What all Planning Volunteers have in common is a good understanding of the planning system and how it works. 

We are looking for someone with a common sense approach and someone who has the initiative to work mostly alone but with guidance from other branch staff and volunteers as necessary. 

Ideally, you will have several years experience of working in a role connected to the planning system - either directly as a planner, or working in planning law - or in a campaigning role.

The ideal Local Planning Volunteer has most of the qualities described below:

  • Good understanding of the UK planning system
  • A good grasp of how Local Plans work
  • Previous experience of looking at specific planning applications
  • Has an interest in the environment
  • Has an ability to keep up to date with local issues
  • Must be able to work on their own initiative
  • Enjoys getting out and about  - can drive and has access to a car
  • Likes investigative work


What impact the opportunity will have

CPRE Somerset campaigns for a beautiful, tranquil and diverse countryside that everyone can value and enjoy; a working countryside that enriches our quality of life, as well as providing us with crucial natural resources. 

We have just one part time member of staff covering the whole of Somerset and our volunteers provide a vital network of local knowledge and experience across the county.  We urgently need more planning volunteers to help us respond to inappropriate planning applications and to support our members and affected local communities, responding to requests for help and support.

What’s in it for the volunteer?

Volunteering with CPRE Somerset offers:

  •  the opportunity to be part of a prestigious, community-based organisation with 90 years of history protecting England's countryside
  • Useful experience for someone hoping for a career in planning or environmental work. 
  • a useful way of maintaining skills for retired people. 
  • the chance to meet like-minded people across Somerset as well as getting involved with their community.
  • the opportunity to attend events and training organised by CPRE Somerset and CPRE National Office.
  • All out of pocket expenses will be reimbursed

Time commitment

Either in or out of office hours

Planning Volunteers work when they choose and the amount of commitment varies depending on planning cases but will be, on average, 2 - 3 hrs per week.

Other details

Local Planning Volunteers work when they choose. They work from their own home but would be in contact with us regularly to discuss progress via phone or e-mail. They will have occasional meetings with members of our Branch Committee to discuss applications. Depending on their location, there may also be the opportunity to join a CPRE District Group alongside other volunteers and CPRE members.