7. Key learning points
Learning Point 1: Design events funded through the Programme appear to be a successful method of engaging the community in design of place and their continued use as an approach should be welcomed.
Learning point 2: There are a range of key factors influencing successful delivery of design events, implementation of outputs (e.g. action plans) from the events, and in achieving impact. These are summarised in Figure 7.1 below, and could form the basis of guidance to local areas in applying for funding. The factors listed in the overlapping section relate to both delivery and impact.
Figure 7.1 Factors influencing effective delivery and impact
Learning point 3: As part of the process of applying for design event funding, or at latest in the final report produced after the design event, areas should outline at a high level the resources they have available or intend to pursue to fund actions coming out of the design event process. Likewise, the role of key partners, organisations and members of the community in implementation and delivery should be clear. This is more likely to lead to achievement of desired outcomes.
Learning point 4: Ensure timeframes for delivery, and production of outputs, including the final reports and action plans from design events is realistic. Experiences to date suggest that ensuring adequate lead-in time (a minimum of three months), and longer timeframes for delivery are more effective in ensuring a high-quality process is followed, and a high-quality final report is produced.
Learning point 5: National bodies can have an important role in supporting local design events, and the implementation of subsequent action plans, with knowledge, advice and funding. Flexibility and capacity within these organisations to support delivery of local priorities is important.
Learning point 6: Local areas should ensure a realistic budget is set aside for facilitation of design events. While volunteers have an important role to play in the process, over-reliance on volunteers could lead to a reduction in quality.
Learning point 7: Some local areas are well-placed to deliver effective design events that lead to substantive impact. Others have fewer local assets and in these circumstances more support and capacity needs to be provided by statutory services to enable design events to be delivered successfully and to achieve impact.
Learning point 8: Achieving short-term outcomes has been shown to be critical in empowering and galvanising communities to take action following design events, and in a more sustained way. Setting aside dedicated funding to take forward a number of actions immediately following a design event can be helpful in supporting this.
Learning point 9: While some local areas are well placed to take forward actions following a design event, others are not. A formal follow-up process at regular intervals following the initial design event – potentially at six months, one year and five years – would enable progress to be assessed, reasons for lack of progress to be identified, and the extent to which communities have taken forward actions and local organisations have embedded design event outcomes in their own planning processes to be examined. There may be value in this follow-up support being provided by someone external to the area (e.g. independent facilitators or Scottish Government officials).
Learning point 10: In some places, design events have already become an important catalyst for improving planning and creating a better sense of place. Given the significant impact that design events are having in some areas, there is potential for these to become a more fundamental part of planning processes more widely.
Learning point 11: Design events may have more impact if they are given more formal status – with an expectation or requirement that local authorities and other local bodies reflect the outcomes of these in their local development plans.