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TAYplan Learns Lessons from Abroad

19 November 2014

Lorna Sim

In preparing the 2nd Strategic Development Plan for TAYplan, considerable work has gone into applying international aspects of development planning and graphics into the work of the Dundee and Perth City Region. Drawing on examples from Melbourne, Hamburg, Vancouver and Sydney this blog provides some insight into areas of relevance and adaptation as TAYplan and other SDPAs plan for a sustainable, prosperous and globally renowned Scotland.

Those familiar with TAYplan (approved 2012) will perhaps recall the focus on placeshaping and quality underpinning that strategy. TAYplan’s 2nd Strategic Development Plan will continue to bolster this by learning important lessons from good practice internationally. City regions are after all a regional expression of global efforts to create successful places.

The Melbourne Plan

TAYplan’s knowledge and understanding of the concept of lifetime neighbourhoods (or lifetime communities, the term considered more applicable to Scotland) are those which offer everybody the best chance of health, wellbeing and social, economic and civic engagement regardless of age. Lifetime neighbourhoods are beneficial to all age groups as they cater for everybody. Older people do not just benefit from lifetime neighbourhoods but also have a large role to play in creating them. Interestingly the recent RTPI Scotland national conference confirmed this launching a ‘Planning Horizons paper (No.3 Oct 2014)’ on ‘Promoting Healthy Cities’. That paper has at its core, a recommendation that cities need to create a more integrated approach to urban health, an aspect surely aided by the co-location of lifetime facilities, services and infrastructure providers within our neighbourhoods.1

Sustainable planning of the human environment is interdependent with the development of healthier and wealthier communities. Partnership working in planning is essential for lifetime neighbourhoods to succeed as it is crucial that everybody is involved in the planning process to ensure that voices are heard. This makes the lifetime neighbourhood concept better as it encompasses and provides for the needs of all ages and types of people.

The Melbourne Plan brought together a number of concepts which are commonly used in planning in a way which TAYplan considered to be easily to use and understand.

The Hamburg Green Network Strategy

TAYplan have done a lot of work in developing a green network strategy for the city region.  Much of this early work around this was informed by the Hamburg Green Network Strategy.  The Hamburg Plan made use of simple, yet effective use of graphics and branding of their green network.
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The city of Hamburg is growing and in order to protect sensitive landscape areas from further urban sprawl, this growth is to take place with networks of green spaces at its heart. The Hamburg Green Network Strategy emphasised that the process of development must be active and sustainable if Hamburg is to deal with growth and the associated changes in a way which has liveability and sustainability at its heart.
Many of the principles adopted by the Hamburg Plan were relevant to TAYplan (albeit at a city region scale, rather than a city scale).  The Hamburg Green Network Strategy emphasised that it had a strategic planning approach at its core and that new development should have a dual purpose – people and place.  By place, there was a specific focus on ‘green added value’ for all.

TAYplan’s Story Boarding Work

TAYplan’s work in looking at international examples of development planning and graphics culminated in working with Architecture and Design Scotland and key partners in story boarding TAYplan’s 2nd Proposed Plan at an early stage.  Storyboarding has been a useful aid to structure the scope and content of the plan, and assist in developing a brief for the graphical content of a Plan.  The international case studies and examples researched by TAYplan continued to be used at this stage, assisting in encouraging thinking about how key policy themes could be graphically presented and in considering different options for the overall Plan structure and layout.  The Vancouver Plan and the Sydney Plan were particularly interesting to TAYplan, at this stage.  The graphical content of these Plans inspired TAYplan and key partners into the format of much of the forthcoming Proposed Strategic Development Plan.  Below are examples of some of the graphics developed during the Storyboarding session.

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Above are just some examples of the many international case studies TAYplan have focused research around in work on the 2nd Strategic Development Plan.  TAYplan’s Main Issues Report graphics have attracted positive comments from the public at information events.  Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, people can grasp the high level strategic policy and better understand how it affects their lives when it is represented graphically in a simple, yet effective way. 

As a young planner, I am passionate about the role of planners in making and shaping places for people.  I think the work TAYplan have done and continue to do in learning from abroad and developing the use of graphics has really emphasised the importance of this and partnership working in achieving quality in planning. I note with interest the work of RTPI internationally and hope that the positive experiences that strategic development plan authorities and city regions have had here in Scotland are aspects that other countries also turn to and learn from.

Lorna Sim is a Planning Officer with TAYplan.  The views expressed are her own and not necessarily those of TAYplan.  Further info on TAYplan can be found here.