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January 24, 2022

Emperor’s new clothes?

Anyone with a passing interest in ‘community’ may be a little confused by the current revelation in policy circles that communities are in fact ‘places’, that communities are complex and multifaceted ‘places’, and that if we could harnessed their potential more effectively by adopting ‘place based approaches’ we’d all be in a much better place (no pun intended). A new website was launched last week to promote this whole concept of ‘Place’. In amongst a lot of what seems to be stating the bleeding obvious, there is the very well designed and useful Place Standard Tool

Scottish Government

Visit Our Place 

Place-based working is about considering all of the physical, social and economic elements of a place collectively. It is about supporting and enhancing the potential of people, physical and natural assets in a place.

Working in a place-based way can identify key relationships and solve problems that can’t be solved incrementally or by one person or organisation acting alone. It can produce more than the sum of its parts by generating novel approaches, bringing in resources or tackling root causes.

Our relationship with the place around us is complex and powerful. It has an important influence on our behaviour, our impact on the environment and our life chances.

Understanding and harnessing the power that place has on people and the planet can give us real advantages over approaches that attempt to solve individual problems or issues.

Scotland’s National Performance Framework sets out a series of Outcomes that reflect the values and aspirations of the people of Scotland. Each of these Outcomes is a crucial element in helping reduce inequalities and give equal importance to economic, environmental and social progress.

If we look at the whole system in which we live our lives then improving the quality of life for people, especially people living with disadvantage and inequality can be achieved at the same time as protecting and enhancing the environment.

This is exactly what place-based approaches seek to do.

Read more about the National Performance Framework

Place Based Approaches

A place based approach is about understanding the potential of a place and coordinating action to improve outcomes, with community participation at the heart of the process.

Read more about place based approaches

The Place Principle

Scotland has adopted a Place Principle.

The Place Principle promotes the need for communities, public organisations and businesses to work collaboratively with the assets and services in a place to achieve better outcomes.

Learn more about the Place Principle


Placemaking focusses planning and design decisions around the creation of a distinctive, welcoming sense of place.

Discover more about Placemaking