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Would you like to be recognised for your skills in community engagement?

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We hear a lot about the importance of community engagement in the planning system and more widely in community planning and placemaking generally – but do we really know what effective public involvement looks, or even feels, like?

The current Scottish Government consultation paper (running until 4 April 2017) on the future of our planning system puts giving people a voice in the future of their places at the heart of the debate. It also looks forward to greater and more innovative use of social media and 3D visualising technologies in engaging people.

PAS originally developed the SP=EED® toolkit for effective community engagement in response to planning reforms introduced by the Scottish Government in 2009 aimed at achieving an inclusive planning system. We followed this up in 2013 with an associated skills verification programme (SP=EED Verification).

Unlike other community engagement guidance, SP=EED recognises that achieving positive community involvement around planning and place presents some specific challenges – often certain factors, such as ownership of land and timescales, may be non-negotiable; equally proposed change can sometimes become a highly emotive matter for those affected.


SP=EED Verification is our two- part skills development programme for planners and others who would like to enhance their approaches to community engagement and have their skills independently verified.

Our upcoming dates for SP=EED® Verification Part 1 workshops are:

  • Glasgow: Tuesday 7 March (5.30pm -9pm)
  • Aberdeen: Thursday 23 March (5.30pm -9pm)

Part 1 is a facilitated interactive workshop and Part 2 involves submission of a written reflective-learning report based on an engagement process participants have been involved with.

We have held seven Part 1 events around Scotland since 2014 and participants have come local authorities, community planning partnerships, planning consultancies, the renewables and energy sectors, communications agencies, academia and 3rd sector organisations.

Some of the feedback we have received from participants is listed below:

I am delighted that by achieving SP=EED Verification I have also met an action identified within my RTPI Professional Development Plan. I strongly believe that taking time to fully consider the engagement techniques adopted means that the overall quality of the engagement process was improved. – Ailsa Anderson, Policy Planner at Aberdeenshire Council

The SP=EED toolkit provides an effective and practical approach to public engagement. It enables users to develop a resource-efficient approach to preparing and undertaking engagement by providing structure and useable tools. I look forward to engaging in the wider network of SP=EED Verified Planners in future and sharing good practice. – Craig Baxter – Planner (Local Development Plan) – The Highland Council

Gaining SP=EED Verification has been really useful to enhancing the quality of my community engagement work with communities in Perth and Kinross on planning issues. The training provided lots of fresh ideas and a good explanation of the SP=EED process. – Diane Cassidy (Senior Community Capacity Builder, Perth and Kinross Council) – the first participant to complete SP=EED Verification!

Very relevant to my profession in private sector planning – highlighted the SP=EED principles we currently adopt and additional ideas to incorporate into our strategies.

Initial attempts focused on using SP=EED as an audit tool at the end of the engagement but we have realised that it is most effective when used to plan consultation at the outset. We have now used SP=EED to develop best practice and incorporate its principles into the design of consultation. – Chris Whitehead – Facilitating Change

As a recent graduate I believe SP=EED has given me the edge to step out as a planner to interact with people and incorporate their views in the planning process. – Angela Asante – Graduate planner

The cost of the full SP=EED Verification programme is £250.

If you would like to register or have any questions please email sp=eed@pas.org.uk or phone David Wood on 0131 659 9774.

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