Planning for place: bringing together community planning and spatial planning

Everyone knows that where you live has a major impact on your life chances, and that disadvantage is concentrated in particular geographies.

Charles Booth’s famous poverty maps of London were prepared in 1889. In Scotland, we’ve had decades of high quality research by places like the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) into the impact that Glasgow’s industrial heritage and clusters of poverty and deprivation have on peoples’ health and life chances.

This is important information, affecting individuals and communities day in and day out across Scotland. Tackling the root causes of what drives these cycles of deprivation and poor outcomes is one of the country’s most pressing problems if it wants to create a fair and just society.

That’s why the Improvement Service ran a recent conference exploring the links between community planning – public bodies working with communities to improve their local area – and spatial planning, which has traditionally been about buildings and infrastructure. The conclusion from the event was that while these two activities have lots in common they’ve traditionally worked quite separately from each other.

nr_160303_community_planningAs budgets reduce that’s just not sustainable, and in the context of the Community Empowerment legislation, local people need to have more of a say in how their area should be developed and improved. We echoed that message in our third update report on Community Planning in Scotland, recommending that the Scottish Government and CPPs ensure communities are given a strong voice in planning local services.

David Martin, Chief Executive of Dundee City Council, and Colin Mair, Chief Executive of the Improvement Service, didn’t shy away from challenging planners of every stripe to really push the envelope and be ambitious in working together to address shared concerns around Jobs, Community Safety, Health and Well-being.

For me, it was a lightbulb moment. Obviously councils need local development plans. They also need a Single Outcome Agreement and locality plans, plus lots of other plans and strategies but streamlining and aligning activity has to make sense. So does making better use of the shared intelligence that community planners and spatial planners have about the needs and concerns of local communities.

Some places, like East Ayrshire already do this. They use their Community Plan as the sovereign document which drives everything that they do (including their work with partners). But for many at the conference there was a sense that this is a journey that they’ve yet to really embark on.

It won’t be easy. Community planning and spatial planning operate under different and at times potentially contradictory legislation and they have different cultures and perspectives. But, what was exciting was the strong commitment to try and work through those challenges to focus on what really matters, improving the lives of local people, and reducing inequalities.

About the author

aclarkAntony Clark, Assistant Director, held a variety of public sector posts in England before joining Audit Scotland in 2003. Since then he’s developed the Accounts Commission’s Best Value 2 audit approach in local government, led on Audit Scotland’s work on community planning and managed a national programme of Best Value audits in fire and rescue. Continue reading Planning for place: bringing together community planning and spatial planning

Auditing complex community-based projects

Big noise logoAs we move into increasingly uncharted territory of more preventative, place-based public service delivery, reflecting the post-Christie agenda, there’s a growing need for audit and inspection to adapt. This will help us to better understand what difference public services (and their third and private sector partners) are making in giving Scotland’s communities the opportunity to fulfil their full potential.

For example, my Audit Scotland colleague Aileen Campbell recently finished an 18-month secondment with the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) on a project to evaluate Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise programme in the Raploch area of Stirling and the Govanhill neighbourhood in Glasgow. This was an innovative piece of work, which Aileen has previously blogged about. Continue reading Auditing complex community-based projects

What needs to be at the heart of community planning?

community_planning_cover Last month, colleagues and I headed to Glasgow to join 300 delegates from across Scotland at a national conference on community planning Changing Lives, Delivering Success: Turning Ambition into Action.

In the report we published last year, Community Planning: turning ambition into action, we found that there is a renewed energy around community planning since the publication of the Statement of Ambition, and the buzzing atmosphere on the day certainly reflected that. Continue reading What needs to be at the heart of community planning?

Community planning in Northern Ireland – learning from the Scottish approach

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I was recently invited to Belfast by the Carnegie UK Trust to share perspectives on what’s working well in Scotland’s approach to community planning, and where further improvements can be made. My views formed part of the Trust’s conference around Northern Ireland taking the next steps towards adopting a well-being framework. Continue reading Community planning in Northern Ireland – learning from the Scottish approach