Ahead of the World Towns Leadership Summit on 15th and 16th June 2016, guest blogger David Thompson of DPT Urban Design reflects on two recent projects exploring the co-production of place-based priorities with local communities in Scotland…
Everyone seems to have their own view of what is a priority. Rightly so in some respects.
Each person, whether a member of the public or an officer in a Local Authority, arrives at their conclusions based on the available data or more simply, what matters to them.
We’re awash with datasets. Clearly a useful resource but this can lead to strategies being created largely from desktop studies alone, sometimes based on data a few years old. The overriding purpose of Community Planning is to make a difference, in other words make a positive change in people’s lives, so we need to know what is happening right now.
So how can genuine, place-based priorities be created that are co-produced with local people?
The starting point of each process was to support the new approach to creating Local Outcome Improvement Plans, in which people are benchmarked, not service performance.
A key aim in Scotland is to create consistent approach for understanding people and their place. In this respect, the Place Standard was introduced as a national tool to provide the same starting point for any conversation about a place, anywhere in Scotland. The 14 themes cover most of the topics that shape people’s lives and the places in which they live.
For both projects, the Place Standard questionnaire was reshaped and a number of tools introduced to support the creation of a robust, person-centred, qualitative data set that could help to determine:
- Thematic priorities for the place (e.g. work and economy, natural spaces, etc);
- Priority projects within each theme (e.g. safe indoor place for young people, business start-up accommodation, etc); and
- Priority areas for change, on a thematic and grouped basis.
The data set was robust due to a focus on the quality of the individual conversation with members of the public and by keeping the process fully transparent. Early reflections on the process suggest the following:
- Keeping track of what matters to people: the simple dashboard reporting enables year-on-year comparisons to re-direct policy to reflect what matters to people in a place;
- A sustainable, repeatable process: Resource efficient approach to creating primary, people-based data in a place;
- Supporting local governance and capacity building: a specific role for Community Councils could be to create the space for this conversation and then keep it going; and
- Scaling the conversation up: The emerging Locality Planning arrangements in some Local Authorities require a consistent and comparable approach for a conversation between neighbouring towns, villages or neighbourhoods to determine co-produced, area-based policies. The dashboard for each place supports a larger conversation.
Some of these themes are going to be discussed at the World Towns Leadership Summit in Edinburgh on 15th and 16th June 2016 and also feature in the emerging World Towns Agreement, which you can still shape.
The learning from these projects suggests it’s the approach to a conversation that matters most.
This blog post was first published by David Thompson on 25th May 2016 on LinkedIn. David is an Advisory Group member on our current project, Mobility, Mood and Place (MMP). In this project, we have been using a range of co-design techniques to envision age-friendly places in Manchester, London and Orkney. We will be launching our A-Z of Co-Design, a wallchart of hints and tips about participatory design, at the annual British Society of Gerontology conference in July 2016.