The Rough Guide to neighbourhood planning

The localism bill, once enacted, will introduce neighbourhood development plans and neighbourhood development orders as new types of planning policy tools.

We just soft launched an evolving Rough Guide to Neighbourhood Planning & Vitality (Beta). There are many unanswered questions in this changing landscape. However, we made a start and hope that it’ll ignite debate and provides practical ideas for those that need to get on with it.


The Rough Guide is an evolving storyboard that tries to make sense of the emerging new neighbourhood planning world.

The Rough Guide might be helpful by:

  • Clarifying some of the key challenges ahead
  • Breaking the journey down into 6 stages
  • Providing ideas for a more enjoyable journey
  • Posing some key guiding questions
  • Arming you with ample travel tips for the journey
  • Giving stories from other neighbourhoods’ travel experiences


The Rough Guide idea started as a pet project born out of 4 reasons:

REASON 1: The challenge that a formal citizens’ referendum (>50%) at the end of a plan-making process brings to bear for any effective engagement strategy – particularly if run on a shoe-string budget and largely dependant on people volunteering their free time and skills.

We think the referendum is a game-changer and it’s important to make it worthwhile for people to get involved in the first place. Reducing the risk of making a great neighbourhood plan that goes nowhere because it just happens to get 49% of the votes in the referendum, is thus essential to a successful engagement strategy.

REASON 2: Our knowledge that there are cost-effective and enjoyable consultation and involvement techniques out there, that allow many people to work well together, but are currently not widely used in the industry.

We believe that the way people work together, and indeed, the ability to engage positively with many people from the start, is of critical importance for the effectiveness of neighbourhood planning.

REASON 3: An observation that small scale improvements, hand-made by all those involved, can make all the difference and act as principal catalyst for learning, capacity to collaborate, taking leaps of faith and overall for a more positive attitude toward change.

We believe that making local improvements happen while you plan for the future is important. People get to know each other, talk about what could be done and all make a tangible difference right from the start.

REASON 4: Our passion for great places and the energy and ideas that come from honest conversations between people that commonly wouldn’t get a chance to talk to each other.

We believe good placemaking shouldn’t be rocket science and successful placemaking needs to be measured by what it delivers. Great places, good plans and enjoyable processes emerge where clarity in purpose and direction meets bright ideas.

The Rough Guide is evolving in terms of content and technology/formats used to present its content. One of the joys of being ‘Beta’ and ‘evolving’ is that we know already that some things in the Rough Guide are clearly ‘work in progress’ or might not work as smoothly as one would like. Let us know if you want to help us to move the Rough Guide from Beta to best practice. Also we’re planning to set up a series of seminars covering different aspects of the guide, including practical training on engagement formats. Please contact us if you are interested in taking part.

So, over to you. Click this link to the Beta version of the Rough Guide:

We hope you’ll find the Rough Guide a thought provoking and useful resource and we look forward to hearing how you think it could be further developed.

  • Join the debate at the Neighbourhood Planning Linkedin group.


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