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Case Studies

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen many great examples of how those involved in planning across Scotland have used digital technology for community engagement, replacing traditional in-person consultation.

Here we present some case studies highlighting the technology and systems used.

Aberdeenshire Council: local development plan

Aberdeenshire Council uses a mix of creative ways to inform and engage the public about its local development plan. This includes short films, a virtual drop-in Town Hall and chat feature through their website. 

What made it possible

Angus Council: Shaping Angus public consultation

This dedicated website makes it easy for people living in the area to have their say on a range of topics. People are urged to comment on plans to develop their area, community beach cleans and to share ideas to get the community working together. It even promotes things to see and do in Angus.

The site often uses maps to highlight features and areas of interest. The feature, Choice for Angus, gives people the power to influence how the area's budget is spent.

What made it possible

Dundee: Locarno Works public consultation

As part of the first phase for seeking Dundee City Council’s permission to develop the former Locarno Works, the developer sent the council a proposal application notice.

Keen to keep their obligation to consult the public, the developer created a dedicated website where they published their vision for the area with illustrations and detailed drawings of their proposals.

Using a chat function on the website, the developer goes online at set times to answer the public’s questions and explore their views and ideas. Visitors to the website can also express their view via an online form.

What made it possible 

Edinburgh: Filmhouse public consultation

The pre-application consultation ran from 11 March to 3 June 2020. Turning to an online solution, was the only way the public could have an opportunity to explore the proposed plans and for the developer to gather the public’s views and opinions.

The proposed plan, illustrations of the cinema’s new design and timeline, were published on a dedicated set of pages on the cinema’s website. These were also shared through the cinema’s social channels and by email.

The public’s comments, questions and opinion was gathered through an online survey.

What made it possible

Edinburgh: Finance House public consultation

Here, the developer first consulted the public at the start of lockdown. When it became apparent further consulting in a public place wasn’t possible, they took a different approach and hosted a live online consultation on their website.

People joining online, were shown copies of exhibition boards and all the details of the proposed development. Web chat made it easy for the public to communicate online with the developer’s team. All views and questions through web chat were captured. People were also given other ways to contact the developer’s team. They were urged to take part in a very short survey about how they felt about the experience.

What made it possible

Edinburgh: Wester Hailes local place plan trial

A website was created to publish a place plan for the area. This new type of plan gives local people an opportunity to have their say about how land in the place they live is developed.

A mix of public events were held. The dedicated website was created to make it easy for people to keep involved and to follow the plan’s progress.

Gathering people’s views about the plan, will help to make sure any development reflects the aspirations of the people who live and work in the area.

What made it possible

Glasgow: Battlefield Road public consultation

The developer had already started consulting the public about plans to develop the Battlefield area of Glasgow when lockdown restrictions came in. To keep the conversation going, the developer created a website to showcase several design proposals. Over 6,000 people visited the site with many leaving their views online about proposals for the area.

The conceptual design boards (PDF 18.1Mb) were put on the website to help prompt a much public view and opinion of the proposal as possible. These were replaced by refined versions.

What made it possible

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority: local development plan

L.I.V.E is the national park’s local development plan. It sets out a 20-year vision to make the area a great place to live, invest, visit and experience. Refreshed every five years, there’s a critical window for the public and interested organisations to really help, understand and shape the plan.

Those responsible for the national park, have tried and tested ways of urging people to get involved. Extra effort is given to reach young people and working age families. Social media works well to do this. 

Planning can be a complex subject to understand so a series of short YouTube videos are found to be an ideal way to explain technical language people can find mystifying. And all jargon is removed from communications.

Complex topics, such as affordable housing, are explained in blogs. Blogs are a good way to record what is said at meetings and to urge people to post questions and comments online.

What made it possible

Perth & Kinross Council: active travel public consultation

This local development plan was published before lockdown restrictions were in place. Outlining the investment taking place across Perth, and proposals to create more quality public space, the plan has attracted a huge amount of public interest.

To keep the conversation going, Perth & Kinross Council turned to their website. The proposals were published on a dedicated set of web pages where the public can see illustrations of detailed drawings to help visualise the proposed changes. People are urged to have their say through an easy to use online survey.

What made it possible

Stirling: Craigforth Campus public consultation and exhibition

Keeping their obligation to consult the public, the developer has created a website to host an online consultation in real time. The developer’s vision and masterplan for offices and surrounding campus area are also published on the website for the public to see and comment on.

What made it possible 

South Ayrshire: local development plan

This local development plan was adopted in 2014. When first published, the council was keen to illustrate it in an engaging way. So they created a website using ArcGIS StoryMaps software.

Our research findings tell us this software is popular with many who work in planning. It combines interactive maps with text and images. One popular feature, is the ability to link development policies with pin pointed areas on maps. In this case, people could scrutinise the plan for each town, coast and village.

While the plans were adopted a few years ago, and public consultation has closed, this is still worth exploring for some great ideas.

What made it possible

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National Planning Framework 4

Read the adopted NPF4 on

Last Updated: 07 Jun 2023