Local Housing Strategy: guidance 2019

Guidance to support a local authority to prepare a Local Housing Strategy (LHS).

8. Place Making & Communities

- Making Sustainable Places

8.1 Housing and place have an important effect on our lives, health and wellbeing. Creating high quality places, whether new or existing, helps tackle inequalities, allowing communities to thrive. Places that are well designed, safe, easy to move around, offer employment and other opportunities and with good connections to wider amenities will help create vibrant sustainable neighbourhoods for people to live, work and play. Quality of place has an important role to play in improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities.

8.2 Place-Making is one of the two Principal Policies of Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) and is a creative, collaborative process that includes design, development, renewal or regeneration of our urban or rural built environments. The outcome should be sustainable, well designed places and homes, which meet people’s needs.

8.3 While planning, construction, housing and transport policy all lie outside the remit of the health service, they all materially impact people’s health. Place-making should therefore be considered alongside Public Health Priority “A Scotland where we live in vibrant, healthy and safe places and communities” and which is reflected in Scotland’s National Performance Framework “We live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe”.

8.4 The LHS should demonstrate what the local authority’s approach to supporting new and existing neighbourhoods based on Place-Making principles and to promote housing’s role in the building of successful and sustainable places. The six qualities of a successful place, set out in Creating Places:

  • Distinctive
  • Safe & Pleasant
  • Easy to Move Around / Connected More information is located here.
  • Welcoming
  • Adaptable
  • Resource Efficient

- Community Involvement

8.5 This means taking a design-led, holistic approach in housing developments that responds to and enhances the existing place, while balancing the costs and benefits of potential opportunities over the long term. High quality places can be achieved when considering the relationships and best balance possible between:

  • A successful, sustainable place
  • A natural, resilient place
  • A connected place
  • A low carbon place

Key documents listed below:

8.6 The quality and design of places has been shown to significantly influence individuals and communities to live more healthily and sustainably. Wellbeing and quality of life, physical and mental health and social and cultural acceptance can all be influenced by the quality of place.

8.7 Charrettes (or community design workshops) encourage communities to take part in the development of ideas for the future of their towns, villages and neighbourhoods. Working directly with professionals, a vision, masterplan or action plan can be generated to help create and improve place. The collaborative nature of community-led workshops allows for wider social and economic issues that affect a community to be considered, alongside the physical design issues.

8.8 The LHS should demonstrate that effective partnership working and local community engagement processes are in place to help ensure the best outcomes when creating or improving places.

8.9 The Community Empowerment Act 2015 places a requirement on Community Planning Partnerships to prioritise outcomes for localities and embeds the principle of working with communities to ensure development and regeneration activity meets the needs of the community and maintains community networks.

- The Place Standard

8.10 The Place Standard, developed by the Scottish Government in partnership with NHS Health Scotland and Architecture and Design Scotland, is an easy to use tool that provides a simple framework on which to structure conversations about place.

8.11 The Place Standard’s 14 themes cover the social, economic and physical characteristics of place. The tool can be used to highlight assets and areas for improvement, facilitate community engagement to help shape a new place or assess the quality or performance of an existing place. The evidence and theory of how place can impact on health and wellbeing is embedded within the tool which can help to articulate the contribution housing makes to health outcomes and the reducing of health inequalities and support of the prevention agenda.

8.12 The Place Standard Tool is already widely used by local authorities primarily to engage with local communities to inform Local Outcome Improvements and Locality Planning. Case studies of how the standard has been used to inform housing strategy and deliver better places are located here.

8.13 The LHS should reflect work undertaken using the tool and how it has involved communities in developing the strategy.

- Regeneration

8.14 The Scottish Government’s Regeneration Strategy recognises that a sustained and co-ordinated place based approach is needed across the public sector and its partners, working with people and communities to address the deeply ingrained economic, environmental and social issues faced by some of the most disadvantaged, fragile and remote communities. Regeneration in cities, towns, villages, communities and remote areas should be underpinned by community empowerment, a place based approach and inclusive growth.

8.15 Regeneration should focus on inclusive growth by supporting local aspiration and involving local communities to attract investment and increase job opportunities. Improved economic, social and environmental outcomes are achieved through community-led solutions, which deliver projects and services specific to a community’s needs and aspirations, through collaborative partnerships with a vested interest in the local area. This approach is set out in the Economic Action Plan.

- Town Centres

8.16 Town centres are facing particular challenges as retail patterns change and evolve and it is essential that towns are supported to re-purpose and diversify. Towns and town centres should be vibrant, creative, enterprising and accessible. Housing development and re-provisioning will help to get people back living in town centres. Infrastructure investment has the potential to make public services more accessible, support community based projects and initiatives and improve transport and access within town centres and high streets, increasing footfall and having a positive impact on retail viability, safety and security.

8.17 The Town Centre First Principle has been adopted to ensure that planning and investment supports the regeneration and sustainability of towns and town centres. The principle calls for the health of town centres to be put at the heart of the decision-making processes that drive public sector investment, policy alignment and available resources. The Town Centre Toolkit features all the ideas and examples of sustainable streetscapes, design and planning.

8.18 The LHS should show how the local authority is using the Town Centre First principle, partnership collaboration and investment to support and/or improve its towns and town centres.

- Compulsory Purchase Order Powers

8.19 Powers to purchase land compulsorily are an important tool for local authorities to use to acquire land that is needed to enable projects that are in the public interest to proceed.

8.20 A Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) can be used to bring forward housing through major land assembly, regeneration or to bring back into use a single empty property.

8.21 Use of a CPO should be considered when:

  • It is not possible or practical to buy the land or building by agreement; and
  • The public interest out-weighs the rights of the property owner(s) affected.

8.22 Guidance on CPOs and case studies are located here. Scottish Government officials are available to discuss the potential use of compulsory purchase by authorities.

8.23 The LHS should set out the circumstances in which the local authority will consider the use of CPOs as a pro-active tool to bring forward housing and regeneration.

- Empty Homes

8.24 Every empty home is a missed opportunity to provide a home to someone who needs it with a warm, safe, sustainable roof over their head. The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, funded by the Scottish Government, and led by Shelter Scotland helps local authorities work with owners to bring their empty properties back into use. The work of the Partnership (at March 2019) has helped bring 4,340 homes back into use and Scottish Ministers want to see this figure continue to grow and for the number of Empty Homes Officers in local authorities to increase. To support this, Scottish Ministers have doubled the funding available for the period 2018-2021.

8.25 The LHS should set out the number of empty homes in the local authority area and the authority’s plans to address this, including the use of CPO powers as appropriate.

8.26 The LHS should include a target for the number of empty homes to be brought back into use over the lifetime of the LHS and for this to be reflected in the LHS Outcomes Action Plan.

8.27 If a local authority has a separate Empty Homes Strategy, this should be referenced in the LHS and a web link to the strategy provided.

8.28 Local authorities can use The Local Government Finance (Unoccupied Properties etc.) (Scotland) Act 2012 to remove the discount attached to certain types of unoccupied homes and to increase the level of council tax payable. The LHS should provide information on how the local authority uses their council tax varying powers, the sums generated and how these are used to support more empty homes being brought back into use.

Areas the Scottish Government would expect to see addressed in each LHS:

a) A summary explaining what the local authority’s approach is to supporting new and existing neighbourhoods based on Place-Making principles.

b) Evidence of partnership working and local community engagement processes that are in place to help ensure the best outcomes when creating or improving places.

c) A summary explaining the local authority’s use of the Place Standard Tool together with how it has engaged with communities and how these have helped inform the development of the LHS;

d) A short explanation of the nature and function of town centres within the local authority area and how the local authority is using the Town Centre First Principle where any investment decisions have been made.

e) A summary setting out the circumstances in which the local authority will consider the use of CPOs as a pro-active tool to bring forward housing and regeneration and tackling empty homes.

f) Information on the extent of empty properties in the local authority area, an explanation of what the plans are for bringing these homes back into use (i.e. employing an empty homes officer and using empty homes loans/grants) and what the impact of this will be in addressing local housing need.

g) How increased income from council tax generation is being used to support housing delivery and bring empty homes back into use.


Email: lisa.bullen@gov.scot

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