Local place plans: literature review and final report

Literature review and research report on community-led planning in Scotland, providing the evidence for the development of a draft ‘how to’ guide for the preparation of community-led local place plans.

Executive Summary

1. Introduction and background

In November 2020 the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) and Nick Wright Planning were commissioned by the Scottish Government to develop a draft 'How to' Guide for Local Place Plans in Scotland, following their formal introduction in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 to "significantly enhance engagement in development planning, effectively empowering communities to play a proactive role in defining the future of their place".

This report describes how we undertook the process and the range of evidence we drew on in producing the draft 'How to' Guide (the Guide).

2. Desk research and literature review

We identified three key elements to the literature review:

1. Analysis of existing community-led plans, including pilot Local Place Plans and other community-led visions, plans and strategies. Our analysis encompassed preparation, development, presentation and delivery of plans.

2. Analysis of existing toolkits and guides, including an analysis of online and offline toolkits and guides, identification of good practice and ideas to inform the development of the Guide.

3. Analysis of techniques, skills, resources and information, to collate relevant existing toolkits, guides, advice, information, policy and data sources that support community-led Local Place Planning.

3. Reference Group and key informants

From the outset we felt that it was important to hear the experiences of key voices across the sector from community groups, support agencies (local and national), planners and people with particular expertise in community-led planning, inclusion and engagement. In order to maximise their input to the draft Guide over a relatively short time period, we established three main methods of engagement:

  • an advisory 'Reference Group';
  • a targeted online survey; and
  • a series of interviews;

each of these methods and their outputs are described in the full report.

4. Structure and content of the Guide

The structure and content of the draft Guide was an iterative one with our ideas being considered, developed and refined through our work with the Reference Group and our contact with the key informants.

The Guide is set out in four main sections which take people stage by stage through a Local Place Planning process:

Section 1 - Getting Ready

This section is intended to help people think about their Local Place Plan, why it is needed and what it is for. It will also help people to think through what needs to be in place in terms of support and resources before they begin to develop their plan.

Section 2 - Developing your Plan

This section takes people through the process of developing their plan from undertaking local research to engaging their community, to getting the plan down on paper. It provides useful examples and possible scenarios which will help groups to develop a robust and inclusive local planning process.

Section 3 - Presenting your Plan

This section helps people to think about how they structure, lay out and design their plan and the different audiences they may need to communicate with during the plan process. It helps people to think about accessibility, readability and the different formats that they should consider.

Section 4 - Delivering your Plan

This section focuses on how people can best ensure that their plan is delivered and has real impact. It helps people to understand the importance of collaborative working, governance and ownership of the process, achieving quick wins, monitoring and reviewing progress.

The Guide has been designed to be a standalone website, with all key content able to be produced as a pdf document. Reference Group participants stressed that the online Guide should have a simple structure and design, reflecting the audience for the Guide being community groups who may have limited access to resources for graphic design.

5. Conclusions

It is clear from the research consultations that Local Place Plans are a major opportunity to advance a number of important government agendas, including:

  • To deliver national strategic policy objectives at the local level.
  • To support planning reform and implementation of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.
  • To support delivery of the community empowerment agenda.
  • To build more trusting relationships between communities and local government.
  • To provide intelligence from local communities to inform future public services.
  • To provide an opportunity for Government to communicate its priorities, objectives and constraints.

Our full report contains 25 detailed points relating to Local Place Plans in general and to the draft Guide. They are presented under a number of headings:

A.Defining characteristics of Local Place Plans

Building on the definition of Local Place Plans in primary legislation, we suggest that the eight defining characteristics of Local Place Plans identified in Section 1 of the draft Guide should be incorporated into formal guidance:

1. Local Place Plans must, if they are to be registered by your local authority, comply with legal requirements.

2. Local Place Plans must belong to the local community. Aspirations, priorities and projects should emerge from and be co-designed with the local community, through inclusive and robust community engagement and development.

3. As proposals for the development and use of land, Local Place Plans should express a clear vision for the future, including a spatial map, and key actions to deliver that future vision.

4. Local Place Plans may contain a variety of proposals, from physical proposals like improvements to community facilities, new homes, and better streets and public spaces; to less tangible proposals like action to support mental and physical health, economic opportunity or community activities.

5. Local Place Plans should be solutions-focused. Actions should be as specific as possible. For example, if a local community aspires to have more homes or jobs, the Local Place Plan should specify what kinds of homes and where they should go, or what type of jobs or enterprise and where.

6. Proposals contained in Local Place Plans should be realistic and deliverable. Some may be quick wins that can be completed in a few months, others might take a lot more planning and many years to deliver.

7. Local Place Plans are tools to support community empowerment, to shape future land use planning policy, to influence public service delivery, and to tackle strategic agendas such as the climate emergency, health and wellbeing, inequalities and economic opportunity.

8. Where possible, Local Place Plan boundaries should reflect local community boundaries.

B.Targeted resourcing to support established priorities

There have long been concerns amongst communities and local authorities about the availability of resources for Local Place Planning. Points 9-12 in the full report contain suggestions about targeting resources to support policy priorities such as reducing inequalities.

C.Registration of Local Place Plans

The registration process for Local Place Plans should not undermine the basic concept that Local Place Plans must belong to the local community. Points 13-15 in the full report contain suggestions for guidance to local authorities.

D. Local authority collaboration in preparation and delivery of Local Place Plans

Local authorities have a number of critical roles in supporting preparation and delivery of Local Place Plans, which could be usefully laid out in secondary legislation and/or guidance. Points 16-19 in the full report contain more information.

E.Preparation of draft secondary legislation and guidance

To maximise the opportunity presented by Local Place Plans, points 20-21 in the full report relate to how secondary legislation and guidance is prepared.

F.The draft Guide as a live online resource

Points 22-26 in the full report relate to presentation, promotion and update of the Guide as a live online resource.


Email: Chief.Planner@gov.scot

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