People - Participation - Planning

We know that when citizens are involved in planning and designing their local areas it is good for the place and good for the wellbeing of the community.  And the greater the involvement of local people, the greater the benefits that they can expect.

Participation in planning goes well beyond traditional consultation processes and involved local people as leaders, collaborators or active contributors to the decision-making process.  

public space is ‘co-produced’; it only comes into being when it is activated by the presence of people

The Social Value of Public Spaces, Joseph Rowntree Foundation


Which type of community-led process is appropriate for a place will depend on the context.  Some communities will already be well organised with skills within their own resources, or they may need input and support from professionals.  

Sometimes it may involve participating processes that a local authority is taking forward, for instance, to help develop a local development plan. Other times it may involve a community identifying a need or issue themselves and then initiating the process themselves.  What is important, however, is that everyone with an interest in that place is given the opportunity to contribute.  Only by involving all of the knowledge about a particular place and its people, will the best, most relevant outcomes be delivered. 

The process may involve small meetings or workshops, spread out over a long period of time.  Or they may be intensive workshops, taking place within the area over a series of days.  These processes are sometimes referred to as 'charrettes', but what they all share is the opportunity for communities to take an active role in developing ideas for their area.  

Shaping better places together

In 2017, a specialist research team, supported by Scottish Government and made up of members from the University of Dundee, Eclipse Research and Kevin Murray Associates produced a report into the facilitation of participatory placemaking.

Access the Shaping better places together research report here

An evaluation of community-led design

Research into community-led design was published by the Scottish Government in 2019. The report sets out some of the benefits and key learning points that have emerged through community-design events in Scotland.

Access the community-led design evaluation report here

Understanding the place

Local people know their environment best.  But places can be complex and understanding the issues and relationships in a holistic way can be a challenge.  

The Place Standard tool has been developed as a way to assess places. Whether the place is well-established, undergoing change, or is still being planned, the tool can help communities and professionals to assess the assets and challenges of a place..

The  tool provides a simple framework to structure conversations about place. It supports people to think about the physical elements of a place (for example its buildings, spaces, and transport links) as well as the social aspects (for example whether people feel they have a say in decision making).

The tool provides prompts for discussions, allowing the consideration of all the elements of a place in a methodical way. 

Click the link below to learn more and access the Place Standard tool:

Place Standard tool