Barriers to Community Engagement in Planning - A Research Study

This report records the results of a research study into the barriers to community engagement in the planning system. Based on the findings from a series of focus groups and an online survey, it explores the barriers to better involvement in planning and also the opportunities and benefits that better community engagement would present for communities and government.

Findings include:

  • Communities and built environment professionals agree that community engagement only rarely influences planning outcomes.
  • Opinion was split on the concept of a "community right to plan". Community/ third sector respondents were very strongly in favour, but professional opinion was evenly divided. This may reflect concerns about
    the practical implications, including the number, content and scope of local place plans and the challenge of embedding them in statutory development plans.
  • At present, only a small minority appears to be motivated to engage in planning. More people may be encouraged to get involved if there is evidence that engagement can make a difference.
  • Too often, engagement activity is about managing expectations and securing consent for development proposals rather than a serious effort to work with communities to achieve better planning outcomes.
  • The report alsosets out a list of preconditions for effective engagement, such as all parties being clear about the purpose of engagement.

The report was commissioned by the Scottish Government and the research was conducted by a consultant team led by yellow book ltd. in partnership with Nick Wright Planning, Scottish Community Development Centre and Kraken Research.

Download the report here.

SCDC would like to take the opportunity to thank all those (over 1600 individuals) who took the time to respond to the online survey, and also those who attended the focus groups.