As both a property investor and a member of the Institute of Fundraising (Cert), I find myself in an uncomfortable position. I volunteered to fundraise for the parish neighbourhood planning group. Neighbourhood planning puts democratic community development on a statutory basis, but it can be very complicated. You must reference evidence throughout, then present the plan to an exterior consultant and to the local authority for validation. Then a referendum requires the majority of people to vote in favour of the proposals.
Our group was visited by another that started this process three years ago. Only three members of the original group remained, and the local authority planners had just rejected their work, saying it was below standard. This group's advice was to hire someone to produce the plan. Government grants are available and raising the necessary £15,000 to £20,000 ought to be achievable. But why should the public purse pay?
Here is my dilemma. Departmental funding is being reduced by 30 per cent and many community groups are facing huge cuts. Scant resources should not be diverted to help the 10,000-plus eligible local administrative authorities in England to form community groups so their views about local planning can be assessed. It costs £385 to apply to build a house. An addition to the existing community infrastructure levy on developers to cover the cost of neighbourhood plans can be applied easily.
Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, firstname.lastname@example.org