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.

2. Desk research and literature review

We identified three key elements to the literature review which are described in more detail in the following sections.

2.1 Analysis of existing community-led plans

To understand and learn from the extensive pool of Scottish experience in community-led planning, we assembled a range of over 50 community-led plans for analysis; the full list can be seen in Annex A. The aim was not to create a complete directory of community-led action planning activity in Scotland, but to ensure that we were tapping into a range of communities, approaches, experiences, contexts and geographies.

The list of plans analysed covers a broad geographical spread and a range of urban and rural communities. The types of plan that we analysed included:

  • Pilot Local Place Plans
  • Community-led action plans
  • Community vision statements and plans
  • Community land use plans
  • Reports of Charrettes and Making Places initiatives
  • Spatial plans with strong community input (e.g. town centre 'masterplans')

These plans came from a range of sources and provided a broad mix of lead community organisations (e.g. Community Councils, Community Development Trusts and local environmental groups) and support agencies (e.g. local authorities, National Parks, PAS, Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Local Energy Scotland and voluntary sector agencies like Community Action Lanarkshire and Community Links). We included a number derived from analysis of the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning and SURF Awards over the last decade.

In addition, we looked at Neighbourhood Planning in England and Wales; although the statutory requirements and purpose of Neighbourhood Planning has a number of distinct differences from the concept of Local Place Plans, we wanted to ensure that we were tapping into all available best practice. Our analysis of Neighbourhood Planning included:

  • Neighbourhood Planning guidance and toolkits
  • a number of English Neighbourhood Plans

In order to help us analyse the full range of 50+ community-led plans listed in Annex A, we created a working matrix which assessed the plans against the various stages of creating a Local Place Plan (preparation, development, presentation and delivery). This helped us to identify good practice across the 50+ plans and identify important elements to inform the content of the Guide. It also helped us to identify a range of illustrative examples that have been included in the Guide, and which provide a resource from which to derive further examples or case studies as the Guide develops in the future.

The outputs from that analysis can be summarised under four headings:

1. Preparing for and developing plans: This covers the essential phases of capacity building, community engagement and facilitating the transition from gathering ideas to establishing deliverable priorities. Key themes identified were:

  • Community capacity building (developmental and specialist support)
  • Partnership working/working together
  • Establishing need and purpose
  • Alignment with existing plans and boundaries
  • Community engagement
  • Inclusion

2. Presenting plans: This element focuses on simplicity, accessibility, graphics and different means of communication. Key themes:

  • Plan structure and design
  • Accessibility and inclusion
  • Production formats

3. Delivering plans: This element focuses on how the plans will be delivered and support for this to happen across a range of local service and support providers. Key themes:

  • Supporting and embedding delivery
  • Community involvement
  • Monitoring and evaluation

4. Other sources of evidence, data and guidance for this part of the desk research included:

2.2 Analysis of toolkits and guides

This element of the literature review focused on an analysis of toolkits and guides, identification of good practice and ideas that will inform the development of the Guide for communities.

Our analysis focused on both online and offline toolkits for community organisations from Scotland and the UK. These toolkits ranged from community action planning toolkits and draft Local Place Plan 'how to guides' to other practice guides and toolkits which are not specifically planning-focused – e.g. community engagement toolkits and community-led action research toolkits.

Our analysis focused on three main elements:

1. How toolkits and guides present and communicate information

In particular exploring the following elements:

  • the use of graphics and visuals to communicate simply
  • the pros and cons of different levels of content and detail
  • the issues of accessibility presented by different formats
  • how to use the additional functionality offered by an online presence.

2. How toolkits and guides are updated

In particular exploring:

  • updating of information – how easily and regularly this can be done for different formats
  • collaborative updating – how this is done, supported and moderated

3. How toolkits and guides are promoted to their target audience

In particular exploring:

  • how key information and messages about the resource are developed
  • clear, consistent branding
  • consistent and planned approaches to communication and use of varied methods for promotion e.g. social media, web, face-to-face
  • evidence and examples of how the dissemination of the resource has been supported e.g. through information campaigns, events or training
  • evidence and examples of how the resource has been used and evidence that the use is being monitored and evaluated

2.3 Analysis of techniques, skills, resources and information

The desk research for this section was heavily informed by our contact with the Reference Group as well as a range of other key informants across the sector. These key informants include support organisations such as PAS[6], Coalfields Regeneration Trust[7] and Architecture and Design Scotland[8]; and community organisations who have experience of being involved in local community-led planning processes.

We identified and analysed key sources of evidence as summarised below.

2.3.1 Existing toolkits, guides, advice and information that support community-led Local Place Planning

To inform this part of the research we sought the views of community groups and organisations as to what support has worked and is most valuable to them in helping them to develop local plans. We also spoke to a range of support providers about the tools, advice and support they provide. We reviewed existing relevant guides and resources for community-led planning to identify key elements that could inform the structure and content of the draft Guide, including:

2.3.2 Existing toolkits, advice, guidance and information that support community engagement in Local Place Planning

To inform this part of the research we sought the views of community groups and organisations about their experience of engaging communities in the development of local plans, and what has helped them to do this. We also reviewed key resources such as the National Standards for Community Engagement[16], VOiCE[17] and SP=EED[18] to identify the main elements that would help to support effective community engagement in Local Place Planning.

2.3.3 Analysis of available information on data, policy and funding for Local Place Planning

A key function of the Guide will be to help community groups find their way through the 'maze' of policy, data and funding information that is available. As part of the desk research we therefore reviewed key sources of information on:

  • 'Hard' objective data about communities and places, to complement 'soft' data generated through community engagement. This included identifying the most relevant, useful, and up-to-date sources for issues like demography, economy, deprivation, accessibility, heritage, local protective designations, flood risk etc.
  • Public policy at national, regional and local level which groups should have regard to. This included identifying the most useful, relevant and up-to-date policies and strategies.
  • Funding and other resources to support delivery of Local Place Plans. As well as carrying out desk research in this area we spoke to Reference Group members and other key informants (see section 3) to understand their experiences of accessing funding and support.


Email: Chief.Planner@gov.scot

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