Community Planning: Methods
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Planning days are a good way for getting the key parties to work creatively together to devise and explore options for a site, neighbourhood or city.

Participants will normally be personally invited by the event instigators. The aim is to have a cross-section of main stakeholders.

A briefing pack is sent to all those attending. As well as setting out the aims of the day, the pack will contain background information about the area and the development process so that everyone starts the day with the maximum up-to-date knowledge.

Workshop formats are designed to encourage the development of creative ideas ( see Design workshop).

Facilitators will often be from outside the area to provide a measure of independence.

A printed summary is produced as soon as possible afterwards and the proposals may be exhibited to a wider public (see Open house event ).
Oxpens Quater, Oxford, UK, 1997, Nick Wates.
Workshop sessions

Workshop sessions
Participants divided into groups working round tables with flipchart to one side
Plenary sessions

Plenary sessions
Reporting back from the workshops with drawings and flipchart sheets
pinned on the wall..

  • Personal invitations can ensure a balanced attendance. But avoid criticism of exclusivity by having spare places for others.

  • One-day events can generate a wealth of information and ideas which can easily be lost. Make sure there are resources available for recording, presenting and following up the results.

  • Holding an 'awareness raising' day (see glossary) a couple of weeks beforehand can be helpful to generate momentum.
  • Main costs: Venue; catering; fee for presenter.
Sample planning day timetable
    .Ideal numbers: 40 - 80
    Larger numbers comfortable if enough space and facilitators; 10 max per workshop.
    10.00 Arrivals and coffee
    Viewing of display material.
    10.30 Introductions and briefings 11.00 Briefing workshops: issues and

    Participants allocated to one of four
    workshop groups, eg:
    1. Transport (access and movement)
    2. Activities (land uses)
    3. Strategic issues (regional context)
    4. Quality of life (environment)
    12.15 Plenary session
    Report back from workshops
    12.45 Lunch and site walkabouts 14.00 Design workshops: options and

    Participants work in one of several
    design workshop groups focusing on
    different aspects of the site, eg:
    1. Regional context 2. Town context
    The site 4. River edge 5. New square?
    15.15 Plenary session
    Report back from workshops
    15.45 Tea 16.15 Next steps
    Planning future activity.
    17.30 Presentation
    To councillors, press.
    18.00 Reception
Sample invitation letter


I have pleasure in inviting you to participate in a special planning day on Tuesday 25th April at 25 High Street. A timetable, guest list and briefing pack will be sent out prior to the event.

The aim is to help develop practical but exciting development options for the area and encourage further collaboration between those concerned. The outcome will form the basis for wider public consultation shortly afterwards.

The format of the day has been carefully designed to achieve results. As well as all major local stakeholders we are also inviting a few specialist advisors to provide the breadth of input required. If there are others you think should be present, please let me know, though space is limited.

To help us in making arrangements, please confirm that you can attend.

Yours sincerely

    "We need more events like this."
Participant, Planning day Oxpens Quarter Initiative, Oxford, 1997.

Last updated on: 04 July 2008