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July 3, 2019

How good is your place?

Whenever a new toolkit, how-to-guide or online resource is launched, there is a predictable burst of initial interest usually followed by a gradual gathering of dust. One tool that seems to be bucking the trend, and indeed already showing signs of longevity, is the Place Standard. Launched almost four years ago, this is a simple means of making an assessment of the quality of a place. Its simplicity may be the key to its success and why it has been applied to a range of different contexts. Some case studies have just been published to demonstrate its applicability to small neighbourhoods.

Architecture and Design Scotland



This series of case studies from Architecture and Design Scotland illustrates how the Place Standard tool has been used in a wide variety of ways and at a range of scales for the purpose of informing spatial planning, community planning, design and development.

The practitioners and organisations featured explain their reasons for using the tool, the methods they applied when doing so, their approach to empowering local communities and the impact that this has had. They also share their perceptions of the tool, the knowledge gained in using it, as well any valuable lessons learned and worth sharing with others.


Some of the more in-depth work and the closest focus on community empowerment in planning is being carried out using the Place Standard at neighbourhood scale. These case studies demonstrate use of the tool in a number of ways and for a range of purposes:

• As part of a design charrette to develop a community-led regeneration brief for East Pollokshields, Glasgow

• In a ‘grassroots’ consultation to guide priorities for a Community Council in Perth & Kinross

• As a framework for a learning workshop to share experiences of regeneration in a GoWell study area of Glasgow

• Embedded in local authority engagement to inform spatial policy for neighbourhoods across Edinburgh. Benefits for the respective communities have been manifold: getting a range of people – including young people and those from ethnic minorities – involved in planning; identifying gaps and prioritising areas for improvement, and using the structure and accessibility of the tool as a mechanism to share learning.

Key learning points identified by A&DS

• Community participants were mostly engaged at this scale by working together in small facilitated groups or by completing a Place Standard compass diagram by hand with one to one support available. The tool was also used online as an alternative way to engage

• In East Pollokshields, it delivered useful ‘hyper-local’ data as respondents’ perceptions of the place varied from street to street

• The simplicity and accessibility of the tool made it particularly suitable for use with young people in schools (in Edinburgh) and youth groups such as Brownies (in Portmoak)

• Its flexibility and adaptability saw the tool used in drop-in sessions and on-street, and also translated into Urdu (in East Pollokshields)

• In the Glasgow GoWell study area, St Andrews Drive, it was applied in a neighbourhood setting but adapted for use outside of the planning process, namely to share learning and challenge perceptions of regeneration

• On a cautionary note, it is clear from both the Portmoak Community Council and City of Edinburgh Council case studies that the tool should not be treated as an end in itself and the ability to follow up is important. Limitations affecting the ability to take actions need to be understood from the outset to avoid the risk of raising expectations that cannot then be met.