[This article was originally published in Planning Magazine, June 2007]
Collaboration is a constant theme of both the Local Government and Planning White Papers. Collaboration, and other similar phrases such as partnership working and integrated services are consistently used within the sector, but how do we ensure these buzz words translate into practical and sustainable outcomes?
Put simply the objective of collaboration is getting the job done more efficiently and effectively to deliver better outcomes on the ground.
For planners collaboration really is essential. As planners, the issues that need to address are spatial, and as such they do not respect administrative boundaries. Therefore, in order to conduct spatial planning effectively we need to work collaboratively.
Planning departments in local authorities across the country differ in size, in the level of experience of their staff and in their capabilities. Issues such as budgets, geography and staffing levels also impact on how planning services are delivered. It is because of these differences planning services should be done in collaboration to ensure the best outcomes for communities.
Collaboration inevitably leads to change. In the way we work in terms of the way we utilise the skills and ideas of a collective group as well as change in the way we find solutions to issues. This change isn’t something that should cause concern; rather it should be embraced as a way forward in delivering excellent services. Stepping out of our comfort zones and utilising the advice and assistance on offer can only lead to better results for all. As planners we need to be able to match our resources to the demands of spatial planning.
PAS is currently working with pioneering local authorities to provide case studies on how best to put collaboration into action. It is part of the PAS’ aim to facilitate self-sustaining change and improvement PAS helps councils provide faster, fairer, more efficient and better quality services.
The work conducted by the PAS is also outlined in the Delivering the Difference: PAS annual report 2007, which was released on June 25. To find out more about the services offered at PAS visit http://www.pas.gov.uk