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March 26, 2024

Potential of the Local Place Plan

For as long as communities have been self-organising and taking action to address their needs, they’ve been publishing plans of one sort or another that reflect their aspirations and priorities. These ‘community plans’ are rarely if ever acknowledged by local authorities or any of the other public agencies that participate in that great policy misnomer, Community Planning Partnerships. However, an opportunity, albeit a slim one, has presented itself in which the connection between ‘community’ and ‘planning’ could become a little more meaningful. Beth Landon, a Masters student at UHI explores how to join some of those policy dots.


Beth Landon

Full summary of dissertation


This research explores the experiences of community bodies at the forefront of

developing Local Place Plans (LPPs), to gain insights into the potential for this process

to build capacity for community ownership of land and assets. The Planning (Scotland)

Act 2019, through which LPPs were introduced, is intended to complement Land

Reform and Community Empowerment legislation to achieve this aim. However, there

is uncertainty over whether this will be the case in practice, due to the increased

burden which development of LPPs places on volunteers, low trust in the planning

system and the potential for state co-option of the community sector.

Focusing on a case study in Berwickshire, Scottish Borders, semi-structured

interviews were undertaken with seven representatives of community bodies involved

in LPPs, or considering involvement. The interviews give deep insights into the barriers

and obstacles faced by groups, the most appropriate support and resources they

require and the extent to which involvement is building capacity and aspiration for

community ownership.

The research reveals considerable preexisting involvement in community-led planning

and aspiration for or involvement in community ownership. It also finds potential for

development of LPPs to lead to further community ownership through increased social

capital due to greater connectedness; through a stronger mechanism for the

designation of land and assets of community value; and through enabling a more

robust funding case. 

However, the findings reveal the existence of substantial barriers

of pressure on volunteers and the groups’ experiences of the Local Authority as

culturally bureaucratic and centralised, which could negatively impact on social capital

by stifling the self-organisation of communities.

The findings give key insights into the form a co-produced supportive framework might

take, to facilitate a genuinely community-led approach to the development of LPPs.

Such a framework could enable barriers to be overcome and has the potential to

rebuild the trust that will be essential for a working relationship between the community

sector and the local state if LPPs are to lead to increased community ownership of

land and assets.