The Place Standard: its origins and early examples

Three people having a conversation about the Place Standard tool beside a building while holding paper.
Published: 15/11/2015

The Place Standard tool was launched in December 2015 to support the delivery of high-quality places in Scotland. The tool provides a simple structure for conversation on issues and outcomes linking physical and social aspects of placemaking.

How can the Place Standard improve existing places?

Research shows that the quality of a place can have a direct impact on quality of life, particularly on health and wellbeing. The Place Standard is intended to support communities, the public and private sectors, to work better together to deliver high-quality places.

At the launch of the Place Standard Tool in 2015 Alex Neil, then Social Justice Secretary, said: 

“This is an accessible approach which will help communities, local authorities, developers, and everyone with an interest in place, to work together to see where resources can best be focussed.. The Place Standard is designed to promote joint working, and to encourage conversations, ultimately delivering better results for the long term and helping to create quality developments where people want to live. I’d urge everyone with an interest in place to visit” 


“Groups across the country are already empowered to do remarkable things in their communities, and this tool will help these organisations even more."

Alex Neil, Social Justice Secretary (2015)

Other benefits of the Place standard tool

A spokesperson for  Architecture and Design Scotland, said:

“The whole reason to develop the Place Standard is to demonstrate the importance place plays in people’s wellbeing and we believe that by giving people this simple tool helping them assess their area can really empower communities and support the public sector to make better places. We look forward to seeing the Place Standard being widely used across the country both to improve development and to support regeneration in disadvantaged communities.”

The Carnegie UK Trust piloted the Place Standard tool with three community groups – Kirkcaldy, Greenock and Auchencairn. Head of Advocacy at the Carnegie UK Trust, Douglas White, said:

“The community groups in Auchencairn, Greenock and Kirkcaldy used the draft tool and provided input to its development. The place standard helped the groups to identify what improvements could be made to their local areas to reduce health inequalities and improve quality of life.

“With the implementation of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act likely to be next year, there is a real window of opportunity for communities across the country to use the Place Standard tool and work with developers and local services to reimagine and redesign public spaces across Scotland for the benefit of local people.”

Keith Giblett of Queensferry & District Community Council, who are one of the communities who have trialled the tool, said:

“The Place standard tool has allowed South Queensferry to take a big step forward with planning for the future of the Town.’

“The places we live or work in and how they’re designed have an important influence on our health and wellbeing. The quality of our neighbourhoods varies widely across Scotland. A Place Standard like this helps professionals and citizens work together to prioritise improvements. Focusing action on the communities that need it most will help achieve Scotland’s ambition to tackle many of the causes and effects of health inequalities.”

George Dodds, Director of Health Equity at NHS Health Scotland


This series of articles explores early applications of the Place Standard:

1. Read about how the Carnegie UK Trust tested the Place Standard tool with communities who were winners of the Carnegie Prize for Design and Wellbeing.

2. Read about how the Place Standard was used to discuss growth in South Queensferry.

3. Find out more about the use of the Place Standard in Arbroath.

4. Read about Corporate Working in Shetland.

5. Find out how North Ayrshire Council to road tested the Place Standard in Irvine.

6. Read about how the Place Standard was used in preparing for a housing development in Shetland.