4. Structure and content of the Guide
The desk research and the engagement described in the preceding sections have contributed significantly to our draft Guide to Local Place Plans. The process has been 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.
4.2 Guide structure and headline content
The Guide is set out in four main sections which take people stage by stage through a Local Place Planning process. The structure is not overly prescriptive as we recognise that people will be coming to Local Place Planning from very different starting points. We have therefore made it as easy as possible for people to dip in and out of the Guide as required.
Each section is laid out below with a short description of the purpose of the section and a summary of the contents.
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. The section covers the following themes:
- What is a Local Place Plan?
- Why prepare a Local Place Plan?
- Who needs to be involved and why?
- How should you define your local community?
- What resources and commitment will be needed?
- Is a Local Place Plan right for your community?
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. The section covers the following themes:
- Doing your research
- Engaging your community
- Planning ahead - includes sub sections on how to create a plan including setting priorities, outcomes, actions and monitoring
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. The section covers the following themes:
- Think about the user
- Think about your format
- Use simple language
- Keep the Plan structure simple
- Think about your design
- Sharing your Plan with the local authority and others
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 section covers the following themes:
- Collaboration - taking a joined-up approach
- Finding support for delivery
- Governance structures
- Funding and timescales
- Monitoring progress
- Celebrating achievements
- Reviewing and updating your Plan
4.3 Guide layout, design and format
As outlined in our original proposal, the Guide has been designed to be a standalone website, with all key content able to be produced as a pdf document. We understand that some people will want or need to have a 'static' printed or pdf version (and indeed may not have internet access), so the online Guide should be capable of being easily printed out in full or in part.
This approach was overwhelmingly supported by the Reference Group as it will:
- Maximise access to and use of the Guide.
- Create a 'living' document which can be updated with new examples and emerging best practice, giving the flexibility and responsiveness needed in what will be a rapidly developing area of practice.
- Enable people to easily navigate the content and pinpoint/share specific elements like checklists for quick reference, downloadable content and links for more detailed information.
- Enable the use of video and other interactive media in the Guide, to engage more people and allow information to be conveyed in the most effective ways.
Reference Group participants stressed that the online Guide should have a simple structure and design. There was a strong preference for simple hand-drawn sketches rather than 'flashy' graphic design - remembering that the audience for the Guide is community groups who may have limited access to resources for graphic design, so the Guide should inadvertently not send out mixed messages. (It is worth noting that Cairngorms National Park and their partners, in supporting community-led action plans in recent years, have deliberately encouraged all community action plans in the National Park not to employ specialist graphic designers in preparation of plans.)
4.4 Designing, updating and promoting the online Guide
Our desktop research included analysis of other online guides and toolkits, as explained earlier. A note summarising this analysis has been prepared and submitted separately. This note includes suggestions and annotated visual examples on the following topics:
- Presenting and communicating information
- Updating an online Guide
- Reaching target audiences