Planning for Real

Project Examples

Planning for Real® is a flexible community engagement model which can be tailored to a variety of contexts. Here are three project write ups which show how Planning for Real® can be used in different contexts, along with some feedback from the clients on how the process worked for them. More project write ups will be coming soon.

High Hazels, Sheffield

Project Type: Park Regeneration

Client: Sheffield City Council

High Hazel Model with Flags

In 2000, The Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation, carried out a Planning for Real® community consultation. The overall aims of the project were to improve the quality of life of the local people and improve the image of the area, using the regeneration of High Hazels Park as a catalyst to stimulate the social, environmental and economic regeneration of the area as whole.

High Hazels Park, whose original design had great historical merit, was established in 1895 and was a centre for social activity at the heart of the community. Over time the original 70-acre structure had been gradually eroded and use of the park declined and was increasingly perceived as a run down and dangerous place to be.

Problems that were associated with the park included:

  • Lack of people using the park and lack of staff presence, leading to the perception of the park as an uninviting place
  • Poor environmental quality of the area
  • Lack of low cost and free quality recreation facilities in the area
  • Seasonal patterns of usage and overall low levels of use
  • Lack of events and structured activities in the park
  • Difficulty in developing opportunities to bring a wider range of activities and increase interest in the park.

The specific objectives included:

  • Undertake a feasibility study based on public consultation to guide the future of the park
  • Develop management options and activities that integrated the requirements of the local community into the management of the park, contribute to a better environment and improved perception of the area
  • Facilitate the production of a regeneration plan, funding strategy and business plan, placing the park in the wider context of the local area
  • Specifically target those in the community suffering from disadvantage and social exclusion
  • Work to increase the use of the park by designing and undertaking initiatives with the local community to make the park a safe and welcoming place
  • Develop the park as an educational resource, in conjunction with local schools, in a variety of ways
  • Raise awareness of the benefits to the health of local community arising from the contribution of formal and informal recreation in a better environment to their mental and physical well-being
  • Work with local businesses to maximise the beneficial effects of the local economy.

Recent feedback by Sally Cuckney – Project Development Officer

The project team faced a difficult task of trying to consult with a disjointed community in an area where there are five recognised languages; some people have no literacy skills. The importance however, of some comprehensive consultation was crucial to the future development of the park. The team needed to know what people wanted in the park and how this could be prioritised so a realistic plan could be delivered. The team made contact with Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation (Planning for Real®). It was strongly felt that a visual, hands-on method would be more effective than traditional questionnaires. “Planning for Real®” method of consultation seemed the best way forward.

A good way to involve people from the very beginning was to get the local schools to help make the 3D model of the park and the surrounding area. The team contacted three local schools; Greenlands Junior, Philimore Park Primary & Waltheof Secondary School. The schools agreed it would be of great educational benefit and the mapping of the park was incorporated into the national curriculum. Planning for Real® provided the base map with contours in easily transportable sections. These sections were then divided up between the schools for the pupils to complete the painting of the model and the making of the trees and buildings.

10 local volunteers from the Friends of High Hazels Park and the staff were then trained in the Planning for Real® process and working groups were set up on how the consultation would be delivered and publicised. It was agreed that the completed model be taken into the schools for the children to put their flags in the map. Because of the involvement of so many children, the parents of the children were then very interested in what the future plans for the park were and also contributed to the consultation.

The main consultation was done at Darnall Festival, which is a multicultural festival held in High Hazels Park. To attract more people there was an extra bonus of a cash prize draw and the children were given balloons. It was a great success and over 3,000 flags were placed in the map. The suggestion flags were translated into the 5 common languages and most had symbols on them for those that couldn’t read. The team were overwhelmed with the success of the responses from local people. There were several queries about the location of the flags, many people just wanted to put their ideas onto the map but perhaps did not understand where the proposed facilities would be located. This did not detract from the validity of the consultation but merely highlighted that experts should do the design plan to appropriately locate the facilities. The suggestion flags were then collected and recorded by Planning for Real®. From this, a smaller working group decided on the importance and amount of requests from the local community and how these could be prioritised.

Landscape Architects were then employed to draw up a regeneration plan for the park on the basis of the Planning for Real® consultation. The project team then had a comprehensive phased development plan to follow. Funding has been applied for in order of community priorities and monies available in accordance with the park plan. The team has successfully achieved many of the most highly prioritised facilities eg new play areas, seating etc. The team are continuing to follow the regeneration plan and apply for further facilities and training for the local community.

Jackman's Estate, Letchworth

Project Type: Community Regeneration including shopping centre

Client: North Hertfordshire District Council

The purpose of this consultation was to ascertain the needs and views of the local community with regard to their estate and, in particular, the Ivel Court Shopping area, in order to devise and undertake an improvement programme for the latter.

The Jackmans Estate is situated on the Eastern edge of Letchworth, Hertfordshire close to the A1(M). It was designed and built in the 1960s on the Radburn principle of pedestrian / vehicle separation and comprised approximately 2,700 homes. 1,100 properties were in Local Authority ownership and the remainder were privately owned. The pedestrianised area comprises the shopping centre with flats over, a community centre, library and a public house (which was empty at the time of the consultation).

The main aims of the consultation was to determine the problems that residents and businesses felt they experienced on the estate as a whole and to determine the specific problems regarding Ivel Court Shopping Area and, then, to ascertain their wishes in regard to solving them. A Steering Group, made up of local residents and Local Authority officers was formed to assist in the “Planning for Real®” process.

Four events were held during April 2001 and a total of 878 suggestions were put forward. The main areas of concern were – crime and safety, environmental and leisure issues. As many were in relation to Ivel Court itself, it was apparent that the overriding issue was crime and community safety here. In addition, many people were concerned that the shopping area looked unwelcoming and needed improving.

The improvements to Ivel Court shopping area and the estate in general that were ascertained from a meeting to discuss the report at the end of the Planning for Real process, were mainly cosmetic to improve the look and “feel” of the area and to make it more welcoming and inviting to visit. However, it was determined that these, and the other recommendations, would take more money than was available at the time and would need to be phased over a period of time. Central to these improvements would be the changing of the landscape so that other improvements could follow.


As a result of the Planning for Real® process a £200,000 external refurbishment of the shopping area has commenced. A development brief has been written, which is now at feasibility design stage, which is hoped will lead to a complete re-development scheme. This is all happening with the involvement of JIG (Jackmans Improvement Group), a new Tenants Association which was formed following the successful PfR exercises.

Ron Lister – North Hertfordshire DC

Preston Road, Hull

Project Type: Remodelling exercise

Client: Hull City Council

Hull map

Consultation event

A joint tender submission was made between the Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation and Hull City Services Technical Consultancy in July 2001 to the Preston Road New Deal for Communities Project to undertake a Master Planning Exercise. The submission was successful and work commenced in October 2001.

The Preston Road New Deal for Communities area lies to the east of Hull. The majority of the estate is pre-war and consists of 2,897 properties (84.5% per cent Council owned) and a population of about 6,500 people. The estate traditionally provided employees for the docks and the railways until the decline of these industries.

The population of the estate is predominately white with 0.8 per cent of ethnic minority origin.

The estate is physically divided into four quarters by a dual carriageway (Preston Road) and by the Holderness Drain, a waterway that serves as a drain for agricultural land in the East Riding.

Although there is a range of amenities on the boundary of the Preston Road estate there is only one shop and very few facilities within the neighbourhood.

Household income levels for the Kingston upon Hull Local Authority are the lowest in Great Britain and therefore are exceptionally low on Preston Road itself. Car ownership on the estate is low and most people are dependant on bus transport. To travel across the city from Preston Road is difficult and requires more than one bus. This coupled with the high cost of public transport adds to the sense of isolation and the difficulties of seeking employment elsewhere in the city.

The housing stock on Preston Road is generally in a poor state of repair. Much of it dates from between the wars, a high proportion is of non-traditional design and the streets are narrow with poor car parking.

35.4 per cent of the population on the estate are under 16 years of age. There is high unemployment on the estate with 19.3 per cent registered as unemployed. 31 per cent of households on the estate earn £5,000 per annum or less and a further 62.6 per cent of households earn less than £10,000 per annum. (These figures have been taken from the NDC Delivery Plan March 2000).

A range of consultation events took place. Initially we undertook consultation for some of the initiatives that were being planned with New Deal funding. It was anticipated that two community houses would be built on the estate, so we started the consultation process in December by undertaking consultation on the proposed location for the houses. Residents were invited to look at the outline designs for the houses and comment on them. There were also a number of choices about where on the sites the houses should be located. During January we undertook a similar exercise with young people asking their views about the TRAX project (a state of the art skateboarding and mountain bike facility) and inviting them to get more involved in the management of the proposed project.

Five consultation events were organised at the end of February and beginning of March to ascertain residents’ views about the overall development of the estate. This information would be used to draw up the Masterplan for the New Deal Area. A site in the middle of the estate was to be developed as a Village Centre. Architects had already been appointed to draw up the plans for the area and they used the consultation events as an opportunity to gauge resident’s views about the proposed plans.

It was clear from the consultation that residents wanted to see better facilities on the estate. They wanted to see:- more activities for young people, more sports opportunities locally, environmental improvements to the area and additional traffic calming measures. Residents also highlighted the need for better recreational facilities and also more shops locally. Housing was also raised as an issue. Many properties had already been demolished and residents identified sites where they would like to see new housing developed. They particularly wanted to see properties designed for young people and the elderly and adapted housing for people with disabilities. Because a lot of demolition had already been undertaken this had become a sensitive issue. When the Masterplan was produced it showed two options for improvements, one included some selective demolition in order to open up some areas of green space, which could be improved. Residents still have to make a decision about their preferred option.

In order to get the New Deal for Communities money, much consultation had already taken place. It was becoming apparent that residents were beginning to get frustrated by continually being asked what improvements they would like to see in the area and what they really wanted now was for some of the improvements to be implemented. They were particularly concerned about the housing improvements that were proposed for the estate and wanted a clear timetable for the programme of work.