Community Planning and Spatial Planning: Closer Connections Event 26-10-2018

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Closer Connections Event: Community Planning and Spatial Planning (organised by Planning Skills - Improvement Service)

The Community Empowerment Act & the proposed Planning Bill emphasise the importance of engaging and empowering communities. The effective collaboration of community planning and spatial planning is seen as important to delivering better community outcomes.

How can we collaborate more effectively to deliver better community outcomes?

From LOIP’s to LPP’s & LDP’s - how will joined up working on the different statutory plans deliver significant community objectives?

This Planning Skills event brought together local authority, governmental & key agency staff from around Scotland to hear 4 local authorities experiences. Workshops encouraged participants to share experiences about current & proposed activity in their area. Below is a brief outline of presentations from the day, (there is a list of acronyms at the end of this content).

Improvement Service : Community Planning and Community Planning Outcomes Profile resource (CPOP)

Emily Lynch (Programme Manager - Performance Management & Benchmarking)

Duty to work together to improve outcomes – Community Empowerment Act

Community planning partners have a duty to work together and with local people to improve outcomes for the community, while using the varied skillsets & knowledge of different stakeholders can contribute to more effective action. Legislation on the Local Outcome Improvement Plan (LOIP) sets goals of a general improvement in outcomes & a particular focus on communities with the poorest outcomes.

CPOP can help to look at how we are doing & help identify what can make a difference in improving outcomes

What is the profile?

  • a tool to help you assess if the lives of people in your community are improving
  • a set of core measures on important life outcomes including early years, older people, safer/stronger communities, health and wellbeing, and engagement with local communities.
  • a resource showing which communities are faring well below average for your areas and for similar communities across Scotland
  • a source of information on what differences support better outcomes.

CPOP makes available information from all 32 Community Planning Partnerships (CPP’s) & provides graphical or map based information to support better decision making & more effective action.

More information and a link to CPOP

Improvement Service/Planning Skills: Spatial planning context

Irene Beautyman (Planning for Place Programme Manager)

What is the purpose of planning? This is still under discussion but one definition is ‘balancing competing demands to make sure that land and buildings are used and developed in the public long-term interest or put another way Making Places for People’. This raises numerous questions regarding who/what/where/how - and where to focus limited resources for consultation, engagement & delivery. For spatial planners, understanding of communities challenges & strengths will be increased by talking to community planning teams & other organisations working to make a difference in communities. If inequality is to be reduced & planning is to target resources towards those most in need, then looking beyond the traditional sources of planning information, (for example at CPOP data such as benefits uptake or emergency hospital attendance), can shed new light on the issues people fa

Increased co-operation between local authority staff & a more comprehensive understanding of communities can help planners to deliver changes with multiple pay-offs.

The design of new housing developments can encourage connection between people & their community – building inclusivity, trust & agency. Planning that ensures employment, retail, education & leisure opportunities are accessible without the need for car use can increase peoples opportunities to meet, encourage healthier transport choices & leads to a more pleasant place to be - in addition to reducing climate change impact. is being developed as a resource that will allow people to share experiences, information & ideas.

North Ayrshire Council : Direct link between LOIP & Local Development Plan (LDP)

Morna Rae (Community Planning) & Neale McIlvanney (Spatial Planning)

Local Partnerships (LP’s) to support wider engagement & delivery of community priorities.

Although North Ayrshire has significant assets such as the beautiful landscapes, the area faces challenges in being above the national average for a range of socio-economic issues. Over the past 4 years, 6 LP’s have been formed to cover the whole of North Ayrshire. LP’s bring together community representatives, elected members & Community Planning Partners with the aim of identifying & addressing local priorities. Consultation & engagement includes use of the Place Standard tool, while the LP’s foster wider links to other relevant organisations & the community - a particular strength of the LP’s is the way they bring together a more comprehensive range of relevant stakeholders. The council has allocated a Community Investment Fund which LP’s are able to utilise & they have supported the delivery of initiatives such as a Mens Shed (aims include reducing social isolation & improving access to facilities) & a ‘Digital officer’ to work on employability issues for local people.

Using community engagement to better inform spatial planning

Research into one of the local communities revealed a large difference in life expectancy between spatially close residential areas – this seemed to highlight the importance of both spatial planning & community planning influences on local outcomes. The latest North Ayrshire LDP was structured around the objectives from the LOIP which helped to ensure a better integration of the LDP with important community objectives & outcomes. Public engagement for the LDP benefited from the networks fostered by LP’s & utilised the Place Standard tool. In proposing development sites for inclusion in the LDP, community engagement enabled planners to provide elected members with community feedback in addition to more technical data such as housing numbers. The LDP was developed to be less text heavy than previous plans (which is often a barrier to engagement), with diagrams showing proposals developed with a holistic focus on local priorities. Informed engagement & a holistic approach resulted in the final LDP gaining better community & other stakeholder support (including from Homes for Scotland). Participatory Budgeting, (for example engaging young people regarding initiatives for young people), helped to encourage engagement & deliver community supported outcomes.

West Dunbartonshire Council : Collaborative engagement around LDP & Locality Plans

(Antony McGuiness (Planning) , Amanda Coulthard (Community Planning) & Elaine Troup (Communities Manager))

Both spatial & community planning have a shared goal to benefit the local community by improving the places / neighbourhoods people live in.

Integration of Plans: LDP informed by LPP’s which in turn were informed by neighbourhood plans emerging from community engagement. LPP’s have relevance as they are linked to the Action Program, Participatory Budgeting & form guidance as part of the LDP. Medium term plans for place include outcomes that set the context for LDP spatial planning, with the LDP supporting delivery of the LOIP.

Community engagement benefits from joint working between spatial & community planning staff:

  • reducing consultation fatigue
  • having outcomes that are more focussed on what local people want
  • aligning resources & plans to deliver shared goals, so that people see results from their engagement rather than being disillusioned from no change
  • delivering change encourages pride in place, care about your place & peoples belief in their ability to make a difference
  • building capacity to engage effectively (including helping people to understand the planning system) whilst managing expectations, with particular attention to areas of multiple deprivation that typically have the greatest needs but least capacity
  • in areas of low capacity the approach is usually to look for the ‘can-do’ people who can spread ideas & engagement into the wider community
  • consistent ‘branding’ under ‘Your place, Your plan’ & ‘Your community’ helps raise awareness & emphasise consistent priorities / actions
  • Place Standard tool training for the planning team enabled them to cascade the training to community members & enhance use of the tool.

Case studies & measuring outcomes: the ‘Clydebank Can’ project for regeneration of the canal was used as a case study to gain experience & inform future community engagement projects. Delivery was assessed in a variety of ways including progress against scheduled milestones, pre & post participation surveys, photographic records & impact statements.

Lessons learned included :

  • the value of aligning activity & resources to deliver shared goals
  • the importance of agreeing clearly defined roles
  • joint working between community & spatial planning staff increased their skills, whilst supporting a more integrated understanding of local issues & how staff can help each other
  • their aim is to align timescales for the different plans as it has been difficult to deliver on the substantial range of legislative requirements.

East Ayrshire Council: Community Led Action plans into Local Place Plans

(John Semple (Planning) & Melissa McCulloch (Vibrant Communities))

Community engagement, consultation & activation to produce Community Lead Action Plans (CLAP’s): East Ayrshire community development staff have supported a process that has lead to 18 of the 32 East Ayrshire settlements producing CLAP’s. Existing community groups & stakeholders reached via the Community Council plus Community development workers are engaged to form a Community Lead Steering Group (CLSG). CLSG’s organise the delivery of a questionnaire to every household & a minimum 40% response rate is required to continue the process to produce a CLAP. Supported by community development workers, the GLSG leads a process including engagement with stakeholders & meetings where people vote on the priorities for their area, that leads to the production of a CLAP. Contacting every household & utilising the community development workers knowledge of the community has encouraged the active participation of people beyond the familiar faces seen at community meetings.

Using Community Lead plans to improve place via placemaking maps & the LDP  : CLAP’s then provide a valuable resource to inform the LOIP which is required to demonstrate progress towards agreed local outcomes. East Ayrshire is also piloting a process using the valuable spatial planning information in CLAP’s to produce Place making maps that can be incorporated in the LDP. The process utilises a framework that assesses community priorities against the Scottish Governments 6 qualities of a successful place , recording issues alongside related actions that can form an action program. Updating community groups with relevant information both builds trust & encourages a reasoned fair response. Including other stakeholders within the council further builds community awareness both of resource practicalities & available opportunities – for example although funds may not be available for a bypass the community can be informed of opportunities to manage traffic flows through the community. The process also has the potential to support Participatory Budgeting & drive development initiatives.

Case studies : CLSG’s are supported by community development staff to continue as a proactive group to achieve local change. Newmilns Regeneration Association has engaged with a participatory budgeting process that has allowed action on a number of locally identified priorities including public realm improvements maintained by the local community. A desire for more local events plus action to support the local economy lead to the creation of the Newmilns Food Festival, (‘putting the oo in food’), which has now run for 3 years with the most recent event attracting 8000 attendees & 60 mainly local suppliers. Active engagement with the community also allows council staff to gain encouragement from seeing a difference & getting qualitative feedback from local people.

Collaborative working with a willingness to learn & adjust : Relationship building has been important between local authority staff as well as with the community – allowing staff to build trust, reduce overlaps, clarify roles & benefit from shared knowledge. The pilot processes using CLAP’s to inform engagement & the production of placemaking maps for the LDP is also seen as a valuable learning exercise to make engagement more effective & create spatial outcomes that are better informed & more aligned with community priorities.

Angus Council: Community Planning, Spatial Planning & the Place Standard Tool

(Jill Paterson (Spatial / Strategic Planning) & Helen Reid (Community Planning))

Restructuring encouraged joint working & sharing of knowledge: Organisational restructuring within Angus council lead to community planning / development staff coming within the same part of the Council as spatial planning team. Initial reservations are being replaced - ‘its been an absolute eye opener to be part of planning’ with both teams increasingly aware of how they can work together to deliver resilient & influential communities. The focus is increasingly on People & Place with community engagement benefitting from having a range of staff that can identify needs in different areas of the Council’s remit. Improved collaboration between spatial & community planning staff has also made it easier to identify, access & engage with vulnerable groups - for example engagement events in pubs on Friday & Saturday nights are considered by staff to have been a positive development.

Ways in which delivery can be facilitated by the integration of community & spatial planning

The intention is to use the LDP to align resources on priority areas of work specified in Local Place Plans. The Planning Bill is seen as likely to provide further opportunities to refocus staff & resources on significant priorities. Shared work & engagement has explored the role & function of settlements / places, with communities involved in considering the spatial development of their area - a new way of looking at LDP priorities in comparison with the more ‘traditional’ submission of red line sites by developers. As an example it is considered that alignment of LDP’s & LPP’s, followed by increased focus on & time for delivery, will allow staff & resources to be aligned behind effective delivery of development solutions for long term stalled sites in areas of low demand. In a period of constrained budgets, it is also thought that having aligned plans with a focus on specific priorities, plus a team of staff ready with the necessary range of skills, will allow delivery to be taken forward as funds become available.

Planning’s Role in Delivering Great Places – a renewed focus on outcomes, delivery & co-operative working to aid delivery

(Eric Dawson (Scottish Government, Planning & Architecture))

The Planning Bill is an opportunity for change: a chance for everyone involved in planning to review & renew practices / culture in their organisations, for example :

  • co-operative working & a shared vision encouraged by the statutory link between Community Planning, the LOIP & the LDP
  • new focus on delivering outcomes supported by the 10 year cycle for LDP’s (2 years preparation , 8 years focus on delivery)
  • new focus on outcomes supported by a delivery program rather than a more process based action program.

The original aim to simplify the planning system may be impacted by additions proposed as part of the parliamentary process & there is still scope to influence the legislation through contact with MSP’s.

The Scottish Government supports pilot projects that explore current practices, opportunities for change & a renewed focus on delivering outcomes.

Do we need to wait for new legislation to review practices & refocus on outcomes ?

How do the skillsets of staff need to be developed to support delivery ?

Moray Council trialled the (Evidence based) Gatecheck that is proposed as part of the Planning Bill and found it to be a good opportunity for joint working between spatial  & community planning teams – for example :

  • increasing the skills & knowledge available to enhance consultation events
  • avoiding duplication of consultation (reducing consultation fatigue)
  • identifying shared outcomes that are better delivered co-operatively.

Fife Council explored use of a delivery program rather than the current action program and found that it had the potential to :

  • increase focus on outcomes rather than process
  • aid co-operation between teams (for example increase the targeting of expenditure on outcomes rather than departments budgeting individually)
  • support a culture shift from development of a place to investment in a place.

Highland Council FW2040 initiative included multi stakeholder consultation events to support masterplanning & delivery of outcomes in Fort William. Participants included spatial & community planning staff, the chambers of commerce, CPP & the public – it is considered that this wide range of knowledge increased clarity on shared outcomes (an advance on the 20 separate projects that had been identified previously).


84 members of staff from 27 different local authorities, agencies and government departments attended the event. Participatory workshops explored current & proposed collaborative working.

Partnership working was reported for almost all organisations represented, with 21 organisations including some formal arrangements.

Collaboration between spatial planners, community planners and community stakeholders aimed to achieve better outcomes / delivery by changes including :

  • improved local plans and better alignment between community focussed and spatial plans
  • community engagement and empowerment
  • utilising a wider knowledge base / skills pool
  • better targeting of resources to address community issues
  • avoiding duplication of activities & consultation fatigue.

Partnership working was organised around such things as :

  • creation of spatial and community plans
  • community engagement for example around place / place standard activities.

Reported activities & outcomes included :

  • joint working on stalled spaces, new high school
  • co-produced place based green infrastructure plans with clear community priorities
  • capturing learning about lead practice case studies.
  • place making maps to link towards community led action plans
  • people attending consultation events encouraged to think wider.


CLAP: Community Lead Action Plan

CLSG: Community Lead Steering Group

CPOP: Community Planning Outcomes Profile

CPP: Community Planning Partnership

LDP: Local Development Plan

LOIP: Local Outcome Improvement Plan

LP: Local Partnership

LPP: Local Place Plan