greenspace scotland has been placemaking with communities in Scotland since 2005. We’ve worked with community organisations, local authorities, urban regeneration companies, housing associations, private developers and planning/design firms.

Community Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to revitalising, planning, designing and managing places. It is based on the premise that successful places are characterised by lively, secure and distinctive public spaces that function for the people who use them. It involves working with the people who live in and/or use a particular place, in order to discover their needs and aspirations. This information is then used to create an agreed place vision and action plan which focuses on people and function rather than design-led solutions

The placemaking approach also underpins how we work on, for example, climate resilient spaces and local food growing.

Our team has been trained by the internationally renowned US based Project for Public Spaces (PPS) greenspace scotland is the only UK organisation to be accredited by PPS as a provider of placemaking services and training.

We can work with you to bring your local spaces to life…

We can provide a range of services, support and training. Costs vary depending on the size, complexity and range of Placemaking support services required and the number of staff needed to support the Place Evaluation. Please contact us to discuss your needs and budgets – we are happy to provide a no obligation quotation. If you would like to find out more about our Community Placemaking services, please read on or contact [email protected]

“Dunfermline Public Park is really transformed since the [community placemaking] consultation. It’s a good example of the lighter, quicker, cheaper approach rather than having a traditional masterplan”

What is Community Placemaking?

The Community Placemaking process involves systematic observations, interviews, surveys and place evaluation workshops with local communities and their partners. There is an emphasis on making both short term, often low cost, and long-term changes.

The place vision can evolve quickly into an implementation strategy, beginning with small scale, do-able improvements that can immediately bring benefits to places and the people who use them.

The process encourages a unique sense of community ownership and stakeholder support, enabling those with a diverse range of interests to identify and achieve a common purpose for the benefit of all.

Community Placemaking can yield benefits far beyond making better spaces for people developing community identity, skills and capacity.

The community placemaking process

Community Placemaking is a participative and flexible approach to planning and managing public spaces and facilities, so whilst there is no set ‘recipe’ for a placemaking project, we typically follow these steps:

1: Identifying problems

In the early stages of any Placemaking project, we work with communities to identify critical issues and problems relating to existing public spaces or to envisioning and shaping new places. We begin by working with communities to understand how a space or neighbourhood is used, or could be used. Typically, this involves observations, stakeholder interviews and a placemaking workshop where participants work in teams to evaluate their area using a simple but powerful place evaluation tool. Where a community is seeking to retrofit an existing place, we help them to develop a comprehensive functional understanding about how public spaces in their area currently work – or don’t work — for the people using it.

2: Developing the vision

Any place can turn into a great place if the local community shares a compelling vision for its future. That’s why we focus on a community-based visioning process that engages the full range of local stakeholders. We bring people with diverse ideas together in an inclusive process that produces high-quality, workable recommendations with big impacts. In this visioning process, we draw from our knowledge and experience of public spaces all over the world, showing what makes some public spaces succeed in attracting public use while others fail. The visioning process builds momentum for bold ideas and sets the stage for ongoing collaboration between stakeholders.

Even the most inclusive workshop will miss some groups. We, therefore, work with the local project team to engage the broader community using a variety of methods including online and mail surveys, social networking and project discussion forums. Based on all of this input, we develop a programme of uses, which we then translate into a concept design plan, presentation and report that summarises the findings of the study, improvement opportunities and an overall implementation strategy.

3: Making it happen

Our Placemaking implementation plans provide a road map to take Placemaking projects from concept to completion. We start this process by recommending a range of short-term, inexpensive experiments that also build credibility by proving change can happen. Successful demonstrations draw in additional partners and financial support for the long-term changes to come. We support the project team to protect the integrity of the community’s ideas from design development through to completion of works.

4: Developing sustainable management approaches

International experience internationally shows that the success of any public space as a place depends predominantly on how it is managed. Successful places are flexible and adaptable to changing interests and needs in the local community. This requires management approaches which support and encourage use and which can accommodate change over time. We work with project teams to embed management into Placemaking plans and to develop long-term management approaches which will be sustainable.

5: Leaving a legacy

Our aim with all Placemaking projects is to leave behind sufficient capacity within the Placemaking group (residents, local authority officers etc.) to:

  • allow them to update, expand and adjust their future plans in light of the learning from their short-term actions
  • allow them to replicate placemaking elsewhere
  • allow them to challenge aspects of local plans and projects which are contrary to the place vision
  • allow them to continue to work with existing, and to develop new, partners

Take a look at some of our placemaking case studies