Re-thinking Neighbourhood Planning: From consultation to collaboration

Although this paper is focused on the UK expereince it has valuable lessons for neighbourhood planning in North American communites.

Published yesterday, the latest Green Paper from ResPublica, Re-thinking Neighbourhood Planning: From consultation to collaboration, argues that involving communities in planning on a collaborative, rather than purely consultative basis will not only lead to more successful developments, it can also generate social capital and value: stronger and more cohesive communities. Written in association with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the publication recommends that:


  • The benefits of good design and  meaningful community engagement should be recognised as a measurable  social outcome
  • Government should appoint an independent panel of experts to define the metrics and structures required to capture the social value created though the neighbourhood planning process.
  • An evidence base from Local Authorities should be used by the Government in order to extend the ‘community budgets’ programme and to create a new ‘Total Neighbourhood’ approach.
  • The Government should make a ‘Neighbourhood Partnership Agreement’ between residents, local business,  local authorities, developers, and design professionals a statutory requirement for every Neighbourhood Plan.
  • HM Treasury should explore the potential for local communities to invest in local development projects through Real Estate Development Trusts (REITs), which should be extended to consider how local communities could collectively invest in local development projects (a Community Right to Invest in Real Estate).

In short, by designing with, rather than for, communities, neighbourhood planning can lead to more appropriate and successful local planning and help create better places. But this kind of collaboration within the planning process – if done in a comprehensive and meaningful way – can also help create stronger, more cohesive communities, generating social capital through an improved sense of collective agency. Therefore, neighbourhood planning has a potential to become a platform for more robust forms of radical localism. It could also be a catalyst for a radically new way of thinking about the relationship between community empowerment and community engagement in planning and design.
The publication emerges as output from our Models and Partnerships for Social Prosperity workstream, one of the three core workstreams of the ResPublica Trust. For further information, please contact Patricia Kaszynska at

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