PAL Client Charter

This Clients' Charter explains the type of service Planning Aid for London (PAL) is able to provide and describes the standards of service clients should expect from PAL.

1: Core Purpose

PAL is committed to providing a free and independent town planning advice service, to those individuals and community groups who are unable to afford the services of a consultant.

2: Aims

PAL aims to provide a friendly and professional town planning advice service. All clients will be provided with free initial advice in response to their enquiry.

PAL aims to inform and educate clients about the planning process. We therefore encourage clients to undertake as much work as possible on their own case.

All of our initial advice is provided free of charge, although a donation to PAL's funds would be appreciated as this enables us to maintain our key services. Clients are expected to contribute towards costs incurred on their behalf. The affirmation of satisfaction by clients is extremely important to PAL and this is a key objective of the organisation.

3: Advice Service

PAL can provide a range of technical advice and guidance on town planning matters, but is unable to provide expertise in architectural matters, surveying or legal matters outside the remit of planning. In particular, PAL is not able to provide a plan-drawing service.

PAL staff will normally be available to answer telephone enquiries between 9.30am and 5.00pm on weekdays. Personal callers are welcome, although appointments are necessary. Please note that casework volunteers are not based at our offices. Unfortunately, our offices are not readily accessible to people with disabilities, although we make every possible effort to go out to people with special needs.

Clients will be offered the assistance of volunteers where office staff are unable to resolve the enquiry, or where more detailed guidance and assistance is required.

4: Eligibility

PAL will make an initial assessment of eligibility for more detailed advice. In certain cases, our advice may be that clients should employ a planning consultant, architect or solicitor, none of whom may provide a free service. PAL reserves the right to refuse cases where clients are ineligible for free advice, and to offer the services of planning consultants. Details of PAL's eligibility criteria are available on our website or from PAL's offices. PAL also operates a consultancy service - PAL Planning Consultancy - (incorporating Planning Advice Line), which may be offered together with details of other consultants.

Although a volunteer is allocated to a client who appears eligible for free advice, the volunteer should on the basis of the criteria make a further assessment of eligibility at meetings with the client.

5: Volunteer Service

Volunteers will be allocated to a client where more detailed guidance and assistance is required. The role of volunteers is to enable clients to address the planning problems they face, through advice, guidance and education. Volunteers may assist with representation and written work where they consider clients are unable to undertake this themselves and where it would benefit their case.

Volunteers should contact clients as soon as is practicable and in any event not later than 5 working days of being allocated to a case by office staff. They should discuss what assistance may be required and set a time table for further discussions or meetings.

Volunteers should work closely with clients, keeping them informed of relevant developments in their case and advising them when action needs to be taken. Clients should ensure that full information is provided to the volunteer and that the Volunteer is kept fully informed of new information or changes relevant to the case.

Volunteers have their commitments, so any meetings arranged will probably be in the evenings or weekends. Clients and volunteers should agree arrangements for contacting each other. Clients should where possible, contact volunteers at reasonable hours.