Creating a Legacy by Putting People at the Heart of Placemaking

Sile Hayes is the Project Intern Officer at RTPI Scotland, working on a research project on Community Planning and Spatial Planning in Scotland. Sile reflects on the social aspects of creating a planning legacy, and the important role that people can and should play as part of the planning process in this third edition in the blog series on Planning for Legacy.

RTPI Scotland celebrated its Centenary and the legacy of planning at its Annual Conference on 7th October 2014. This theme was echoed throughout the day by different speakers paying tribute to the role of planning in creating a physical legacy, an economic legacy, a community legacy, and sustainable and resilient places. Held in the fitting location of the Emirates Arena in the East End of Glasgow the planning legacy of the Commonwealth Games was clearly portrayed, with the walking tour of the Athletes’ Village as part of the Conference emphasising the future lasting legacy of the Games in the provision of affordable and sustainable housing for the east end of Glasgow.

Thinking about my current research project for RTPI Scotland, a key theme for the day for me was the need to engage communities in planning, and the need to integrate Community and Spatial Planning in a more meaningful way.

Engagement in the planning process is crucial for legitimatising planning decisions and maintaining a sustainable legacy. Fiona Logan, Chief Executive of Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority highlighted this, emphasising a need for a collaborative approach to the engagement process as well as the recognition of the scope and diversity of the role of planning in the community. Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park has an interesting online consultation tool “Live Park” which has significantly contributed to the discourse on the legacy of the park. Nicola Bacon of Social Life affirmed this, highlighting the need to design for Social Sustainability, and calling for a need to put people at heart of placemaking.

Jim McCormick of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation brought home to the room the staggering statistics of poverty rates in Scotland and the relationship between planning and poverty, questioning are we building communities of choice or communities of fate? Related to this, the conference also saw the launch of the RTPI Planning Horizons Paper “Promoting Healthy Cities”. The research paper looks at the lasting effect policies have on places, particularly in relation to health policies. Dr Michael Harris, Deputy Head of Policy and Research at RTPI cited the Danish example of Copenhagen where promotion of health is a holistic approach and shared responsibility across all areas of local governmental.

The primary premise of integrated and joined up planning stood out as a key driver for establishing sustainable and resilient places. This was demonstrated in the high calibre of charismatic and inspiring speakers who presented at the conference. Delegates were then invited by Pam Ewen, RTPI Scotland Senior Vice Convenor to think about what will be our personal lasting legacy, as a final thought for the conference.

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