This is the time of year when we thank those who are keeping us safe and secure over the festive season. Whilst we enjoy the company of friends and family receiving thoughtful gifts (and the odd bad cold!), the emergency services are working hard for us during the holidays. For this I am truly thankful.
But, as well as those at the forefront of our minds, there are those in roles doing good for us all in the Bailiwick that often do not get a mention. Those people, if asked, would never compare themselves with the emergency services but still they contribute to our way of life and deserve a kind thought at this time.
There are many such deserving people in our community but those I want to mention are the group of people with whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the last 20 months – the Planners.
They may not be a group that readily spring to mind but, to illustrate the work they do behind the scenes, since the end of November the Planners have received over 100 applications for planning permission and have made 161 decisions – 16 of which were during the period between Christmas and New Year. It is their day job you say – agreed – but it is the way in which it is done that I appreciate.
To understand what their work entails, each political member of the Development & Planning Authority decided to shadow members of the team – my first stint being in December. I was shown the stages of a typical application, how to use the wonderful DigiMap and also to see how personal callers receive help and advice with their applications. Strikingly, throughout the morning, I was constantly reminded of the extent to which the Planners are engaged with the public.
There are a myriad of opportunities for the Planners to hear, and act upon, the views of everyone in Guernsey from the representations on individual applications to the comments that were made during the consultation on the draft Island Development Plan. There is also opportunity for public engagement on subject plans, local planning briefs and guidance notes and finally draft development frameworks such as the one for Pointes Rocques Allocated Housing site in St Sampson.
By reflecting on the work of the D&PA, it highlighted to me that their work is an example of how to successfully engage with others in a transparent, fair and timely manner.
So I would like to say a thank you to all the hard working Planners for showing us what can be achieved when there is purposeful, respectful engagement between those who have potentially conflicting views – perhaps this is a lesson for us all in 2018?