A place-based collaborative approach to Fife’s Local Development Plan

An aerial image of Levenmouth, Fife showing the entrance of the river Leven.
Published: 24/08/2023

A place-based collaborative approach to Fife’s Local Development Plan gains momentum with Key Agencies Group support

(August 2023) Architecture and Design Scotland shares insight into the Key Agencies Group ongoing pilot work, supporting Fife Council to prepare an evidence report for a new-style Local Development Plan.

In the summer of 2020, Fife Council approached the Key Agencies Group to provide input for their Local Development Plan (LDP) preparations. At that time there was a focus on policy topics and technical aspects. Through the joint work a shift has been made towards a more collective approach to gathering and analysing evidence centred around Fife’s places and communities.

The work has developed in support of National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) and implementation of new LDP regulations and guidance. It recognises the vital role that LDPs have to play in tackling complex challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and health inequalities alongside the need to take a place-based approach.

The five first stages to preparing a new-style Local Development Plan

Architecture and Design Scotland are leading the collaborative work with the Key Agencies Group, in supporting Fife Council’s planning team to work across their services through five key stages.  

1. Establish a whole-place collaborative approach with the project team   

The Key Agencies Group worked with the Planning Team to help them secure a place leadership role in their work with others to apply national policy ambitions at a local level.

2. Establish a whole-place collaborative approach with corporate team

Through an early collective workshop, we looked at Fife as a whole, highlighting common issues, challenges, opportunities and drivers for change. We asked, “What kind of place is Fife 2050?” and used the responses to create a strong narrative around a shared story for change.

3. Undertake collective mapping of place-based evidence

A Knowledge Exchange with City of Edinburgh Council enabled sharing of practice and approaches to mapping 20-minute neighbourhood infrastructure across the whole authority area.

A baseline mapping workshop series for the Levenmouth area enabled a closer look at opportunities and challenges for the local area alongside planned activities and investments. The sessions were informed by Place Standard exercises from the local community. The approach was subsequently replicated by the team across each of Fife’s seven community planning areas. 

4. Storyboard the evidence report

Architecture and Design Scotland led a workshop to support the planning team to storyboard a place-based evidence report and explore use of graphic communication.

5. Collective analysis of place-based evidence (local area)

The next stage of the work will focus on analysis. The Key Agencies Group will work with the team to collectively consider what data and evidence are suggesting about plan implications to help deliver sustainable, liveable and productive places.

The analysis will focus on one community planning area, using an approach that can be replicated by the planning team across others.

Outcomes of the work so far

Support is ongoing but we have already seen a fundamental change in approach. The preparations for the next Fife Local Development Plan are now firmly rooted in a collective approach based on an understanding of Fife’s places.

At an organisational level, knowledge and capacity has been built to enable the planning team to take a leading role in delivering a whole-place collaborative approach through the plan process.

“It has been invaluable having the support of A&DS and other KAG partners. They have challenged us to think differently, to broaden our understanding of place [...] They have brought a high level of added value.” 

Bill Lindsay, Service Manager (Policy & Place), Fife Council

Key Agencies Group Collaborative Local Development Plan Offer

Our work with Fife enabled us to develop the Key Agencies Group Collaborative Local Development Plan Offer and expand our support to a further five Local Authorities (Renfrewshire, Highland, Midlothian, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Dundee).

The new offer, launched in January 2023, received 22 expressions of interest. The Key Agencies Group were impressed by the scale of ambition and appetite for a whole-place collaborative approach at an early stage in the Local Development Plan process.

Due to the scale of interest, Architecture and Design Scotland is now in the process of launching a new resource package, Place skills for plan-making. This will support planning teams who are not part of the pilot work to take a similar approach.

In this resource, planning teams can expect to find basic placemaking principles, practical steps, templates and case studies to help apply the learning to their Local Development Plan preparations.

Image credited to Our Fife