PlanLoCaL: scale-model brings local people to the planners’ table

Empowering communities to input into a Local Development Framework

Project duration: July 2009 to July 2010

This page describes a significant piece of work from the first year of PlanLoCaL in which we explored ways to enable communities to input meaningfully into their local authority's Local Development Framework.

The work was undertaken in Bath and North East Somerset where we worked directly with the council to explore ways in which low-carbon, climate-adaptable development could underpin its draft Core Strategy (one of the key elements of the Local Development Framework).

What quickly became clear was that key issues such as renewable energy were not well understood, either by the council’s planning officers or by elected members. As long as this remained the case, the council would be poorly placed to support the local community on planning for a low-carbon future.

So, how could we address this shortcoming, and make public consultation events more meaningful? The answer was a large-scale, four metre-long model of a town with surrounding rural hinterland for use as an ‘engagement tool’ both for planning issues and renewable energy technology.

The model

The model was built by local architectural model makers, Amalgam. It emphatically does not represent a perfect new eco-development, but rather reflects the patterns of land use and settlement that shaped the towns we know today. It illustrates how planning decisions of the past have contributed to our energy-intensive lifestyles, but conversely how planning today can encourage sustainable development, and how renewable energy technologies can be incorporated into our existing settlement patterns.

Especially useful in Bath has been the inclusion of Georgian and Victorian ‘listed’ buildings, which has allowed for discussion and learning on renewables in a heritage setting.

Facilitators can use the model, and accompanying exhibition material and hand-outs, to describe the options that planners have before them. It has already been at consultation events in Bath and North East Somerset, at the Green Communities conference in Liverpool, a Green Alliance conference in London, the 2011 RTPI conference in London and at River Cottage in Somerset.

The model is also available for other local authorities to borrow and use as part of their own 'core strategy' or similar development process, and acts as a useful aid to engaging communities during consultations.

Click here to download a hand-out designed to accompany and interpret the model.
(Note that this is designed as an A3 sheet which folds to A4).

Resources and learning for the local authority

The PlanLoCaL pilot provided a range of services for Bath & North East Somerset Council. This has included:

  • Training for elected members on planning for renewable energy
  • Training for planning policy, development control and heritage officers on planning for renewable energy (these were attended by around 75% of the planning department, running over two days)
  • Community workshops, including group discussion exercises around pivotal issues such as encouraging take-up of renewable energy technologies whilst preserving Bath’s unique heritage, and analysing subjective views on large-scale wind [see here]. This work stream also included a successful workshop for young people which is described here
  • Short training sessions on ‘Community Benefits from Renewable Energy’ – not directly linked to Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Core Strategy and therefore attended by groups from outside the district as well

Visit the PlanLoCaL website 


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