Greenspaces, parks, gardens, and streets have become even more important to us as venues for social activities, sports, youth work and cultural events and learning. With a lot of “normal” venues closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, local organisations have looked for new ways of bringing local people together outdoors safely and creating a much-needed sense of community.

We engaged erz landscape architects to gather examples and good practice from across Scotland. The Better Outside Ideas Source Book has quick, cheap and simple examples from £5 per person, through to more ambitious projects which would require professional support and planning. Whether you are thinking about shelter, seating, lighting or planting, we hope you will find something in the colourful Ideas Source Book to inspire you.

Download: Better Outside Ideas Source Book

The Technical Resources note covers some of the things you need to think about and infrastructure that may be needed to support activities happening outside in parks, greenspaces, education and health estate grounds - including: location, risk assessments, shelter, toilets, hand-washing and lighting.

Download: Technical resource sheet

Social Farms and Gardens Scotland have worked with Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust and Greig Reynolds to develop a low-cost open-source design for a shelter – download coming soon

Shelters - in brief

Sometimes it rains in Scotland! But that’s no reason not to get outside. For outdoor events and activities, encourage people to dress for the weather – wearing waterproofs and wrapping up well.

If you are running regular outdoor events and activities, you may want to provide somewhere to shelter from bad weather. Temporary shelters can be made cheaply and quickly. Use of ropes and tarpaulins tied to trees or other existing structures, teepee tents or gazebos do not usually require planning permission and cost little (they can be as cheap as £50 to £400). They are also flexible and portably, allowing you to move them around the park or between several spaces.

More permanent buildings may need planning permission. Speak to your local authority as early as possible and consider gaining pre-application advice from your planning department. Yurts (canvas or wooden), wooden huts, bothies or lean-tos can all be used. Think carefully about what would work well in your site and canvas views of other people and groups. The cost of permanent structures varies hugely from a couple of hundred pounds to several thousands. Where planning permission is needed, you will need to allow at least three months from submitting plus installation time.

Handwashing - in brief

Regular handwashing is more important than ever to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Providing hand sanitiser and encouraging people to regular sanitise their hands is an option for many outdoor events and activities. There are other ways of providing handwashing facilities outside.

Handwashing requires running warm water and liquid soap. At its simplest, warm water can be provided using a large plastic tank topped up from a thermos flask. For community gardens and other activities that regularly use the same spaces, installing a solar powered water heater might be an option to consider and open source designs are available online. This may require planning permission, so speak to your local planning authority as soon as possible.

Remember to always check the most recent Scottish Government guidance and advice when planning activities and events outside.

Thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for supporting work on Better outside - using our spaces more