Collaborative Local Plan Making

Site and Local Character Assessment with North East Somerset's Parishes

Client: Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES)

In 2013 Place Studio were appointed by B&NES to work on a ground-breaking collaborative project between Parish and Town Councils and the Local Planning Authority. As part of Local Plan preparation, the Place Studio team worked closely with officers from B&NES and with Parish and Town Councils to devise a professionally rigorous, yet easy-to-use, site assessment methodology to inform potential site allocations in the Local Plan - read more about this here.

Building on this work, in 2018, Place Studio were again appointed to use lessons from the earlier round of work to revise and refine the collaborative site assessment methodology for communities to use to inform the Local Plan Review. Again working with officers from B&NES and with representatives from Parish and Town councils across the area, we produced a further series of Toolkits which enabled communities to consider not just site assessment and selection but also to assess the landscape and built environment character of their place as a whole.

From both exercises, the local detail captured through community site assessment has informed B&NES Council’s decisions as to where to allocate and where to protect land in their Local Plan. B&NES officers also made clear that this work had radically improved their relationship with their Parish and Town Councils, supported (if with a small ’sting’!) by comments such as the following from one Parish Council: An excellent initiative, the toolkit worked well, the subsequent assessment went well, and it was an exercise well worth doing and should have been done 25 years ago.”

Because of the success of this initiative, Place Studio were commissioned to run similar exercises with Cotswold District Council and Forest of Dean District Council and continue to use the toolkits formats in other settings.