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January 24, 2022

Place through a climate lens

Last Saturday, saw the official launch of the latest planning device for communities – Local Place Plans.  Although the extent to which local place plans will actually change anything on the ground is yet to be established, the fact that they have some basis in law (Planning (Scotland) Act 2019) cannot be ignored. The aforementioned Place Standard Tool will be of assistance to any community wanting to create one. Although still relatively new, the Place Standard Tool is already evolving in response to the fast-changing environment that communities have to plan for. A climate lens is on its way.


Sam Whitmore, Public Health Scotland

The Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland, Adaptation Scotland, Sniffer and Sustainable Scotland Network are working together to develop a climate lens to work in conjunction with the Place Standard Tool (PST).

The first phase pilot project sites

The lens is being developed to enable community placemaking to better address climate change and to engage with wider and connected policy agendas. This links to the Scottish Government’s priorities to make Scotland more equal and socially just and also to the aims of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The Place Standard Tool is an effective and widely used means for considering the places and environments we live, work and play in, with a focus on health and wellbeing. It provides a simplified framework to help stakeholders (organisations, communities, businesses, etc.) consider the physical and social elements of places, and it challenges organisations to have targeted and timely conversations to help inform and initiate action towards positive outcomes. The Place Standard Tool can be used at any time when people want to discuss the current state of a place, and to consider its future.

The addition of a climate lens to the Place Standard Tool offers the opportunity to more actively consider climate change and how it will impact on the health and wellbeing of people in Scotland’s places. The climate lens will help stakeholders, including public health planners, local planning partners and communities, to better consider how climate change will play out in a local area.

While the Place Standard Tool was not designed as a climate change tool, good place-making is essential for designing a robust local response to the climate emergency, such as taking local action to cut emissions and to increase resilience to local climate change impacts.

Place Standard Tool with a Climate Lens Pilots

The pilot project which is underway now and hopes to be completed in March 2022, aims to develop the Place Standard Tool with a Climate Lens resource. The project is trialling draft resources and guidance material with real life projects across Scotland, taking on their feedback to make the guidance for the tool as user-friendly and effective as possible.

The anticipated outcomes of the project will offer bespoke resources with a climate adaptation and mitigation focus offering communities the opportunity to develop strategies to address climate change within the context of their local environment and therefore the opportunity to consider climate change from the perspective and scale of existing places and those planned to develop in the future. It is hoped that the Place Standard Tool with a Climate Lens will be an invaluable tool for helping communities to better understand how the sometimes intangible concepts of global climate change will impact them locally and the sort of actions that they can take to increase resilience and reach net zero.

Theresa Martin, natural environment officer, Glasgow City Council, said: “As a cross-departmental local authority team, we trialled the Place Standard and its climate lens pilot, we were able to facilitate ‘Wee Wanders’ (based on walkabouts) in some Parks, Woodlands, Greenspaces in a certain area in Glasgow and were able to structure our conversations about climate change more readily with the tool.

“‘Climate conversations’ are extremely important to have and we incorporated them into our engagement approach. Using the pilot tool guidance questions with some editing here and there, we were able to raise awareness and start and continue ‘chats’ raising awareness about the many tangents and everyday factors of climate change that affect our Parks and Greenspaces and other natural spaces as well as in our daily lives.

“Along with storytelling and an artistic approach in the community, the tool played a part in building a ‘sense’ of community and togetherness around the cause of climate change. The importance and usage of our local greenspaces is at an all-time high and we can all see the effects of the climate in these spaces but we may not necessarily know this is where the changes are coming from. The use of the pilot tool, as part of a collaborative creative approach helped support awareness raising about the complex aspects of climate change, it helped us to think more broadly and expands inquisitiveness.”

For more information on the pilot projects please contact: Sam Whitmore, Public Health Scotland (