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SP=EED Verification in Fife

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Bill Lindsay – Service Manager (Development Plan) – Fife Council – blogs about commissioning PAS to deliver SP=EED Verification to a range of Fife Council staff.

As I write this, many of us involved in or working with the planning system in Scotland will be looking closely at The Scottish Government’s new consultation paper People, Places and Planning and thinking about how its proposals can shape how planning is carried out in Scotland. Much of the discussion in this latest planning review is, as it has been in previous reviews, been concerned with how people – communities or individuals – get involved with planning and its various factors. In short, engagement. A further specific proposal in the consultation is for a closer alignment between spatial and community planning.

In Fife, we believe we have a good track record with community engagement and, indeed, engaging other partners and agencies we work with. But we know we can always do better and are keen to learn from changing expectations of those groups who want to be involved in the planning system or simply communicate with us.

We regularly review what works well and what could be done better when we carry out some form of consultation or engagement exercise to do with development planning or in the wider sphere of planning activity. At present, my team is finalising Fife’s first Local Development Plan with a view to it becoming adopted in April this year. As we look ahead to finalising one plan and thinking what might emerge from the planning review for a future plan, the time was right to work with PAS on SP=EED®. I wanted the SP=EED Verification training to review our own experiences and practice and to measure those against the principles set out in SP=EED.

Our SP=EED event took place at the beginning of February 2017 and involved almost all of my Development Plan Team, including planners, specialist officers, and GIS specialists. We also included guests from Fife Council’s Community Learning and Development Teams who work closely with communities on a range of community events and activities to help deliver better services and work with priorities identified by communities. In addition, we were pleased to accommodate two representatives from a Buckhaven based community group, CLEAR, in order to have a community perspective on the discussions and activities of the day.

This was a half day training event and proved to be both lively and enjoyable. I believe everyone who attended got something from it and, looking ahead, it helps us to start shaping our thinking about how we take forward the next step of Development Planning and its likely closer alignment with Community Planning.

SP=EED is not the only technique or set of principles available for community engagement but it compares well with and complements other methods and principles such as those set out in the National Standards for Community Engagement.

If you work in the development or public sector or in a community group with planning or community involvement, you might find it worthwhile to see what SP=EED can offer you.

If you would like more information about SP=EED Verification please contact David Wood – david@pas.org.uk .0131 659 9774

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