Step 4: Making a Plan for Your Place

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Now it’s time to get planning!  Your Town Team should start to make a plan for your place, to generate and communicate ideas to improve your town.

 

In this step you will:

  • Identify issues to address
  • Develop a vision
  • Develop objectives and projects
  • Prepare a Plan for your Place

Town Councils, Local Authorities and local business will have limited funds to implement changes.  A well-presented vision and community plan will make funding bids more likely to succeed, but you should try to include a range of scales of projects in your plan.  This will allow regeneration to happen bit by bit, as and when funds become available, keeping alive the momentum and enthusiasm you have already generated.  If your plan relies on raising a large pot of money, you might end up being disappointed.  You can include Do-It-Yourself scale projects, such as repainting benches; to larger transformational projects, requiring additional funding.  Think about innovative ways of making change, such as meanwhile use of empty shops, community run services and temporary changes to public spaces, streets and squares.

 

Be inspired by...  Mold Spring Clean

Not all projects need a lot of funding to make a big difference.  Sometimes small changes are just as effective, as the Mold Spring Clean shows.  The project came about in 2009 from a community’s desire to improve its physical environment.

Click here to find out more.

 

Preparing a Plan for your Place

“A locality must be open to change, permeable to new people, ideas, buildings, industries and new climate conditions, if it is to be resilient.” [1]

The aim of the plan is to:

  • Report the findings of your town study
  • Provide a long term, evidence based vision for the future of your town
  • Provide a framework for its delivery
  • Support further community consultation and funding applications

A good plan will be:

  • Strategic
  • Long term - a minimum of 10 years, but more likely 20 or 25 years
  • Firm and determined enough to be achievable
  • Flexible enough to adapt to opportunities
  • Transparent and open

Consulting and Referring to Planning Policy

It is important that your plan fits within the boundaries of your local planning policy framework.  In Wales, Local Authorities are charged with creating a Local Development Plan.  This describes an overall strategy for an area, the volume and type of development that is expected, what types and scales of development will be supported, and environmental and social policies.  It will mutually beneficial to build a connection with the local planning and regeneration teams at your Council.

The Design Commission for Wales’ report Good Design and the Local Development Plan Processwill help you understand the Local Development Plan.

You may find that your specific community receives little or no mention in the Local Development Plan, or perhaps the plan does not address what matters to people in your town.  In this case, your plan could help to inform the Local Authority’s strategy for your town and could be adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance if you work alongside them.  Supplementary Planning Guidance sets out detailed guidance for a specific area or a specific topic, for example, design, open space, masterplans or residential development.

In preparing their planning policy, your Local Authority may have carried out or commissioned studies of high streets, traffic movements, green spaces, empty shops and Conservation Areas.  These can provide useful background information for your plan.

Checklist:

  • Consult with your Local Authority Planning Department again
  • Gather strategy information from the current Local Development Plan
  • Gather studies, report or analyses carried out in your town

 

Forging Links with Others

Building links with strategic partners is essential for a community-led plan to succeed.  Build new and maintain existing links with community groups and partners to ensure that the public are kept informed of events and development, and that their voice is heard in the decision making processes.  Go to Shape My Town's Townloads page to download a poster template if you are planning an event you would like your community to know about.

Explore links to other small towns across Wales, the UK and beyond.  You can benefit from discussing the issues your town faces with others.  Why not inspire your Town Team by organising a study visit to a town that has carried out similar projects?

Find out more:

Action for Market Towns – AMT’s members only section of its website has links to towns across the UK and example projects

 

What Should Your Plan Be Like?

In order for your plan to be widely read it should be concise, clear and illustrated.  You should be able to add to or amend it as the plan progresses, and it should be widely available in different formats.  It might include the following sections:

Background

  • Who wrote the plan, when did they write it and who owns it?
  • Information about your Town Team
  • Who and what the plan is for and how should it be used?
  • Aims and objectives of the plan

Your Town

  • A description of your town and its surrounding (refer back to your studies)
  • Characteristics of the town (refer back to your studies)
  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Report of any benchmarking undertaken
  • Summary of your findings

Your Vision

  • Your vision statement
  • How your vision was developed
  • How it responds to your findings

Framework

  • Describe themes, approaches and actions
  • Describe objectives
  • Intended outcomes, timescales, estimated cost

Ensuring success

  • Address any factors that might threaten delivery
  • How the success of the plan will be measured

Find out more:

Action for Market Towns: Town Action planning

Town and Country Planning Association: Your Place Your Plan

 

Identifying Issues to Address

You should now have a good idea of your town’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  These are the factors that will be examined through your Plan for Your Place.  Use your SWOT analysis to make a list of:

  • The positives that people value and should be preserved or enhanced
  • Things that people don’t like and need improving
  • Things that your town doesn’t have that would be of benefit

 

Your Vision

Your vision will be an overarching statement of the direction for your town over the period of the plan.  It should be concise, summarise the key features of the plan, and be based on the evidence and views you have already gathered.  If your vision is guided by the views of townspeople and the evidence you have gathered, it is more likely to influence the Local Authority and Council members.  From your vision, the objectives, aims and outcomes of your plan for your place will be developed.

Examples of vision statements from community led plans:

 

“Tapping into the capacity of its people to build up Dewsbury’s economy as a thriving market town.” [2]

 

"Create a thriving international centre which capitalises on its potential and strategic position". [3]

 

“By the year 2025, Mold will be an economic driver for North East Wales and a must-see destination for visitors to the region.  The local community, their families, friends and tourists will be able to enjoy the benefits offered by the town’s heritage and its natural and economic assets.  This will be supported by the shopping experience offered by the range of successful customer-focused retail, tourist and professional businesses creating wealth and new job opportunities” [4]

 

Be inspired by... Small Town: Big Difference

The outcome of the Ruthin Market Town of the Future project consisted of a vision and three themes, each with a series of linked projects around the vision: “Ruthin is a small town with big potential.  The town prides itself on its history, heritage and landscape.  It aims to become a sustainable, creative and connected market town with a high quality built and natural environment.”

Click here to find out more

 

Developing a Framework

Once you have defined your vision, you need to set objectives that are more specific and outline how the vision will be achieved.  The framework will form part of your plan for your place, and will be used to communicate information to local people and Local Authorities, prioritise projects, attract funding, and set out monitoring procedures.

The framework should set out:

  • What the Town Team, Local Authority and consultants will do to achieve the vision
  • What actions or tasks need to be achieved to meet the vision
  • Outputs and the effect these will have in the town
  • Ways of achieving the outputs, including how much they might cost and how long they might take
  • Where funding could be found to enable the actions
  • Any risks that could prevent the actions being achieved, and how they can be overcome
  • How success will be measured

Your Town Team should decide which areas you need to target to achieve your vision.  You should generate and review ideas for projects, thinking about immediate, short-term and long-term targets.  Take into account existing initiatives and projects in the town and consider how the plan can compliment these.

You will probably have numerous targets, some of which will be easier to reach than others.  Each of the actions required to meet your targets should be ranked by importance, support from local people, and resources and time required to complete them.  Remember that small ‘early wins’ will demonstrate to local people that your plan is having an impact on their town.

 

Projects

The real impact of design in the built environment is felt not only through major projects, but by the design of everyday places and buildings.” [5]

As ideas develop into projects, you will need to think about their feasibility and viability, and ensure they support your vision.  You might need to look at business plans, funding sources, expected outputs, responsibilities and timescale for completion; and you may require the input of specialist consultants with experience in developing projects with local people.  Don’t forget to continue collaboration with your Local Authorities, business groups and other bodies.

 

The Market Town Healthcheck [6] advocates the ‘SMART’ technique to ensure actions are well thought out and achievable:

            S – specific

            M – measurable

            A – achievable

            R – realistic

            T – timescale

 

Be inspired by... Pidgin Perfect, Girl Walk // All Day: Temporary Cinema Event, Glasgow

Pidgin Perfect will carry out a series of temporary live projects to engage the public with stalled spaces in an effort to get them thinking differently about how these spaces could be used in the future. 

Click here to find out more.

 

Find out more:

For inspiration on projects have a look at the following:

Art in the Open: Inspiring Creative approaches to town centres - A toolkit to support the development of arts projects in towns

Public Art Online - A resource with guidance on the commissioning of public art and case studies

Community Land Advice Cymru - Community Land Advisory Service which aims to help community groups, landowners and other interested people to find information on making more land available for community use

Community Energy Cymru - An organisation bringing together communities engaged in sustainable energy projects and renewable energy generation

 

Encouraging good design

“The ultimate outcome of planning procedures must be streets, towns and cities that the public positively love and find beautiful.” [7]

Welsh Government’s Planning Policy Wales’ Technical Advice Note 12: Design, highlights the importance of good design:

“2.2     ...  committed to achieving the delivery of good design in the built and natural environment, which is fit for purpose and delivers environmental sustainability, economic development and social inclusion at every scale...

2.6       Design which is inappropriate in its context or which fails to grasp opportunities to enhance character, quality and function should not be accepted as these have detrimental effects on an area.

3.5       The Planning system should be pro-active in raising the standard of design and awareness of design issues among the public and private sector.”

The Design Commission for Wales is a national public body established by Welsh Government to champion good design in the built environment in Wales.  The Commission works throughout Wales, helping make it a better place through prioritising the design quality of buildings, places and public realm.  The Commission provides seminars and workshops for members of the public, groups and societies; an expert national Design Review service for development proposals; and training for Local Authorities and others involved in planning or commissioning development proposals.  Publications available from the Commission may be helpful to your Town Team including No Place Like Home, a small book aimed at simplifying jargon and helping people to understand planning and good design for homes and neighbourhoods.  Click here to visit their website to look at other publications

Preparing your plan for your place offers the opportunity to encourage high quality design in your town.  Your appraisal of your town will have explored what makes the character of your town unique and new development should be designed to enhance this.  Use of local materials should be encouraged.

Find out more…

A useful guide to assessing the impact of a project has been produced by the Centre for Regeneration Excellence Wales

Design Commission for Wales - Wales’ champion for good design in the built environment

 

Funding sources

The first place to start in the search for funding is your Town Council and Local Authority, who may be able to provide funding or point you in the direction of local bodies and organisations that can support your projects.

Funding can be sought from a wide range of trusts, foundations and funders who accept grant applications.  The National Lottery is an important funding source for individual projects and community-led organisations.

You could also think about raising funds by ‘crowd sourcing’.  Websites such as Spacehive allow members of the public to pledge funding for projects they would like to see built.

Click here for a list of potential funding sources.

 

Be inspired by...  Glyncoch Community Centre

The former-mining community of Glyncoch had spent seven years trying to raise £792,000 to build a new community centre with limited success.  With grant applications expiring, residents used Spacehive to promote their fundraising within the community through sponsored events, street fundraising and individual pledges. 

Click here to find out more.

 

Meanwhile uses

“Vacant units become a self-fulfilling legacy, the more empty units that exist, the less other units are sustainable and fewer potential commercial tenants are attracted to an area.   A meanwhile use can overcome this process, by brining units into active use and thereby attracting more people into the area.” [8]

One method of testing and implementing change in the short term is the use of temporary or meanwhile uses.  An approach that has benefitted from the empty shops and spaces caused by recession, meanwhile use entered Government policy in 2009 and has been invigorated by the Portas Review, which recommended imaginative reuse of empty space by community right to buy, meanwhile uses and “Community Right to Try”.

In the short term, empty spaces can be used to host community engagement events.  The location of empty shop units on the high street guarantees a high footfall from a wide cross section of the community.  In the longer term, proposals emerging from your vision can be tested using temporary interventions to assess their viability and benefit to the community.  Take a look at the Meanwhile project:  www.meanwhile.org.uk

Find out more….

Centre for Regeneration Excellence in Wales (CREW) has produced a review of international best practice in meanwhile use

Meanwhile Project -  Access local space in

Land in Limbo - Guidance developed by CABE to make the best use of empty urban sites

Spare Place - Spare Place is a collaboration between the Empty Shops Network and Open Sussex to match people with local empty spaces

 

Be inspired by...  Holyhead Empty Shops Initiative

The Plas Cybi Partnership, a community-owned regeneration organisation, approached owners of vacant shops to discuss rent-free periods for vacant shops.  The aim was to implement quick fixes in vacant units, both internally and externally, and working in collaboration with the County Council and Enterprise Agency to attract entrepreneurs into the town centre.  

Click here to find out more.

 

Measuring success

Your Town Team will need to periodically review your plan for your place to ensure your objectives are being achieved and you still have your vision in focus.

Think about:

  • The outputs from each action
  • Whether actions are being completed on time
  • Whether the strategic aim of the vision is being met
  • The impact of actions on the wider town
  • Whether any unplanned activities, benefits or further projects have come out of each action
  • Whether the action has had a positive impact

Informal methods of collecting feedback include community consultation sessions, questionnaires, and before and after statistics.  Formalised systems of benchmarking projects could be used, and if Local Authorities are involved a robust system of measuring success should be available.  Other methods of assessment of the success of your plan include comparison to other local or national towns, the foundation of a network of Town Teams to share success stories, or entering projects for awards.

A useful guide to monitoring and evaluation has been produced by the Centre for Regeneration in Wales (CREW)

 

Be inspired by...  Llanmadoc Siop y Bobl

Established in 2007, the Llanmadoc community shop was the response of a small community on the Gower peninsula to the closure of its last shop ten years ago.  The community founded a not-for-profit cooperative to run a local shop, providing a wide range of fresh goods, groceries, frozen and chilled goods, an off license, a post office and a bakery.  

Click here to find out more.

 

Happy Town Shaping!  Let us know what you get up to!

 

 

[1] Bauman Lyons, Distinctive Futures p14

[2] Bauman Lyons Architects, ‘Dewsbury Strategic Development Framework’ p29

[3] Holyhead Forward Strategy

[4] Heritage Initiatives, Mold: Sense of Place Feasibility Study pxi

[5] Peter Bishop, ‘The Bishop Review: The Future of Design in the Built Environment’ p7

[6] http://www.setowns.org.uk/?page=HealthcheckHandbookandWorksheets

[7] Maritz Vandenburg, quoted in The Bishop Review

[8] Prof Dave Adamson, quoted in 'International expert shows how meanwhile uses can help to regenerate towns and cities'