Resources about place-based approaches, a holistic approach that can cross policy sectors and silos, and links to key resources.

Place is a physical setting and social context. Place is rich in meaning although what a place means, and to whom, and for what reason, is highly contested and frequently challenged.

In recent years there has been a ‘return to place’ in Scottish policy. After a period when the focus of attention was on ‘strategic’ partnership working, attention is now back on neighbourhoods, community assets and place-based approaches.

The Community Empowerment Act 2015 has embedded this approach with the statutory requirement that each community planning partnership (CPP) divides the area of the local authority into smaller areas described as ‘localities’ underpinned by a commitment to reducing inequality and taking greater account of the needs of those localities experiencing poorer outcomes.

It offers a holistic or ‘whole place’ approach that crosses policy sectors and silos. Its added attraction for policymakers is that it sounds tangible, immediate and local. It’s something an individual can identify with – a place to live, a place of work, and a place to care about and protect.

At the same time, place can easily become a catchall for a range of potentially inconsistent policy agendas. The downside of a place-based approach is the risk that it becomes weakly-specified, poorly-evidenced and ‘a receptacle for odds and ends’.

Place-based approaches have the potential to support community-led initiatives but they need to be linked to wider investment and poverty reduction strategies if they are to make a significant contribution.

Your Community is a neighbourhood-level, place-based approach to public service reform in West Dunbartonshire. The community planning partnership piloted Your Community in 2014-2015 across 17 community council areas. The new approach was aimed at supporting communities to become more sustainable, thriving, and aspirational, and to improve service delivery.

This report provides insights into experiences and process of implementing the Your Community programme.

The developing role of key independent community sector organisations known as community anchors  – community-led, multi-purpose organisations are explored in this research report explores It draws from six exemplar anchor organisations to look out:

  • their roles in engaging with, leading and challenging public service reform
  • how public services and the state can better support community anchors and community sector development
  • and the potential roles of anchors in building local democracy, community resilience for sustainable development, and wider social change.

Transforming communities? Exploring the roles of community anchor organisations in public service reform, local democracy, community resilience and social change

The Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland project provides the opportunity to develop and pilot a practical example of the What Works Scotland approach to place-based change. The learning that emerges will help develop and establish a way of working that will be transferable  across a range of settings and issues.

Within any area there is a huge amount of knowledge and resource – in the people who live in the community, the local third sector, public sector organisations and businesses. In a children’s neighbourhood, the idea is for those people and groups to agree a way of working that will help tackle the big issues that are making it difficult for children and young people to live happily and healthily, do well in school and achieve what they want in life.

West Dunbartonshire Community Planning Partnership created the Syrian Resettlement Programme. A key challenge for resettlement is how to strike the right balance between providing support to a vulnerable population and fostering independence and access to mainstream service provision. This research looked at the experiences of the refugees themselves and the processes and structures implemented by the CPP and its agencies.

Related resources

See all What Works Scotland’s publications and resources, blogs and activities related to place-based approaches