Whole place collaboration – Alva pathfinder project report

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Download: Alva Pathfinder – Section 1 Report

What’s this project about?  

Architecture & Design Scotland (A&DS) has worked closely with the people of Alva and the local council to develop a vision for a safe and thriving town centre. 

The project takes a whole-place collaborative approach: working with the community and Clackmannanshire Council to understand what change is needed to improve Alva. 

This understanding is helping to guide a development brief that seeks not to solve one problem at a time, but instead to find a range of solutions that provide multiple benefits. 

The ideas this report explores aim to help meet Alva’s housing needs whilst improving residents’ health and wellbeing, helping eradicate inequality, adapting to climate change, and empowering the community. 

Click on the link above to download the report. You can also explore our vision and toolkit setting out how Clackmannanshire Council could implement the suggested changes to Alva over time. 

Community and housing-led town centre regeneration 

The project centres on identifying opportunities for re-use of a vacant site on the edge of the town centre occupied by an abandoned and derelict building – the old Glentana Mill.  

It explores different scenarios for how to regenerate the site for a mix of different uses including housing, workspaces, an active travel hub, and a health centre.  

All ideas are about understanding the needs of the place and the benefits development can bring within the context of physical, social and economic regeneration of the town. 

Who is involved?  

92 members of the community 

49 pupils from Alva Academy 

This pilot project was led by A&DS working with Clackmannanshire Council, Scottish Futures Trust and the Alva community.  

What are some of the existing problems identified by the community in Alva? 

  • Cars dominate the town centre with few pedestrian crossings, making walking and cycling difficult. 
  • Young people face an uncertain future with few economic opportunities. 
  • Local healthcare facilities are under pressure. 
  • Getting around is difficult and unsafe for vulnerable groups. 
  • Local bus services are unaffordable and inconvenient. 
  • There is a lack of new, good quality, energy-efficient and affordable housing.
  • Old and derelict buildings give locals and visitors a negative impression of Alva. 
  • High business rates discourage a vibrant local economy. 


What are some of the potential future benefits of good placemaking?  

The people of Alva can…  

  • get around safely and easily with walking and cycling routes through the town, sustainable transport, and better access for the mobility impaired. 
  • make the most of the town’s green spaces with attractive outdoor areas for children to play, community allotments, and easy routes into surrounding nature. 
  • lead healthy, enriched lives with better housing and enhanced community, enterprise and health facilities. 
  • feel a sense of belonging with the preservation of local heritage and natural history and with the repurposing old buildings. 
  • ensure their public spaces are sustainable and resilient by working closely with local service providers to maintain them.

What is next?  

This project has tested the role of collaboration in providing a ‘whole place’ brief and a catalyst for town centre regeneration. It’s a pilot project for local authorities and communities across Scotland. 

The report provides a toolkit for the regeneration of Alva with actions for a range of stakeholders such as Clackmannanshire Council, NHS Forth Valley, Alva Community Development Trust, businesses, and residents.  

This work will be further supported by A&DS and Scottish Futures Trust as the project develops.

Annexes to the main document

There are two further documents supporting this report available to download here.

Section 2 outlines the tools used in the work in Alva, including details on personas and scenarios.

Section 3 outlines in-depth information about the use of the Place Standard tool and the responses collated through the process.


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Image credit: 3D Reid
Post updated January 2022
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