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Report on Masterplan Training Event (November 2011) Delivered by A+DS and the Key Agencies Group (KAG)



Report on Masterplan Training Event 29 November 2011

Foreword The Key Agencies Group (KAG) comprises A+DS, Historic Scotland, SEPA, SNH, Scottish Water and Transport Scotland; and includes representatives from Scottish Government, COSLA and other agencies where relevant. The Group works to provide support and assistance to local authorities in their planning function in order to deliver better outcomes and ensure sustainable economic growth. One of the group’s targets is to assist planning authorities to further develop staff skills. Training events are supported by Improvement Service through the Planning Development Programme, which is a Government funded programme providing training and development opportunities for planning authority staff and elected members. In response to requests for masterplanning training, an event was held on 29 November 2011 to consider how agencies, planning authorities and the private sector can work together to deliver better masterplans. Each agency was present and helped to facilitate on the day. As part of the aim of ‘linking policy makers with practitioners’ a member of A+DS’s Design Review panel with considerable experience in masterplanning provided a thoughtful presentation from a private practitioners perspective and also assisted in facilitation and feedback.

Planners have a crucial role in guiding the masterplanning process.

The training was targeted at planning officers with little or no experience of the masterplanning process, and reviewed the policy context, drew on case study and other learning material, and engaged participants in an active ‘hand-on’ group workshop exercise to develop a brief as part of guiding a masterplan process. This report provides a summary of the event and is also intended to form the basis of a learning resource pack which also comprises the presentation, practitioner presentation and film, links to relevant agency publications, case studies and other good practice (see references & further reading) The report is structured to reflect the activities of the day: Policy overview Practitioner presentation Case study Group work Presentations / feedback Conclusion KAG and IS hope that this resource pack will be helpful to disseminate learning across a wider audience, and welcome feedback about how future events and learning outcomes might be improved. Comments and feedback should be sent to 1

Policy overview

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Eric Dawson (A+DS) provided a brief policy overview to set the context.



The phrase “… masterplan by others …” is a term that can abdicate responsibility, and create an imbalance in a process that involves a multiplicity of players. It is recognised that there is a partnership approach to new style, map based plans (Delivering Planning Reform Oct 2008); masterplanning is a method of co-ordinating participation in a decision making process about the future of a place; it also provides a context for involving agencies according to scale, context and significance. Planners therefore have a crucial role in guiding the masterplanning process. NPF SDP LDP SPG



Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) identifies three key points: LEADERSHIP - “...development plans should guide what goes where and why … get the right development in the right place … Issues should be resolved in the plan and not left to development management … “ CLARITY OF OUTCOMES - “...focus on quality of outcomes … planning authorities should be clear about their expectations … commit to the creation and maintenance of high quality places …” LOCATION, LAYOUT AND DESIGN – “Promote sustainable development through influence on the form, layout and design of new development” The most appropriate scale at which to apply these three key aspects of Leadership, Clarity, and Design detail is at the Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) / masterplan scale. Designing Places makes specific reference to Masterplanning which: • is part of part of a ‘toolkit’ that bridges strategic to local • illustrates proposed urban form in 3D • explains how the intended vision for the place will be achieved – implementation, phasing and timing of development … Masterplans generally show an end state even when continuous change is much more likely; it is therefore necessary to define the critical elements (‘non-negotiables’) that are desirable to maintain over the long term to guide change. PAN 83 on Masterplanning reinforces major points: • Vision - What is the nature and quality of the place that we are trying to create? How does it respond to larger strategic ambitions? • Brief - Be clear about the principles • Leadership - Set out and maintain vision throughout the process • Partnership working - Guide and collaborate in the process


As partners in the process planners need to be able to take part in a conversation about masterplanning at various stages: briefing; preparation; evaluation; stewardship. A+DS has produced a leaflet on Lessons Learnt on Masterplanning, based on findings and observations through its Design Review function. This document is intended to be a useful and practical resource when engaging in briefing, formulating or evaluating a masterplan. Key points are to avoid a formulaic approach, but instead root a proposal in the unique assets and distinctive character of a place, and to consider how a proposal can generate wider benefits that extend beyond the confines of the site. Further points are highlighted in the presentation or the document.

The training event is not about turning planners into masterplanners! However, it is about challenging the notion of ‘masterplan by others’ and reiterating the important leadership role of the public sector to set out a vision and define principles to guide a masterplanning process. In summary, the policy overview stimulates an appreciation of what a masterplanning exercise is intended to achieve: it is not to fill up a site with ‘stuff’, but rather make a place by: • unlocking the potential of what exists • integrating with a wider context • stimulating what might happen elsewhere • in terms of place making it is evident that masterplans can have a positive influence across different scales, that relate both within and out with a red line site boundary:



Practitioner presentation

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Ewan Anderson of 7N Architects drew upon 20 years of experience in masterplanning to provide a thoughtful and insightful presentation. Key points from the presentation included: Scottish planning and development communities are at an interesting point – the development model that guides how places are made is undergoing change, and there is now an opportunity to consider how places can be created through positive planning. It is important to have a vision that guides change over the long term. Markets fluctuate, circumstances change and masterplans are not fixed end states; a vision is essentially the picture on the jigsaw box that recognises that the overall picture will be constructed incrementally over time. As change is inevitable the masterplan should set out aspirations for spatial strategy, rather than proposals that are specific, fixed and rigid. There is no one generic masterplanning model (see adjacent); the key challenge is to work with the context. Masterplans should think in 3D; a 2D zoning plan does not capture the essence and quality of the place that is to be created. A masterplan is not the end result, but is a framework to guide actions to realise aspirations; development needs to happen on the ground – proposals therefore need to be financially viable. A recent example of the Callander Charrette (co-facilitated by 7N Architects) was used to illustrate a possible new way of working where a collective community vision for a place is developed by asking a basic question: ‘what does Callander want to be?’ In this example the plan moves between longer term strategic large scale issues (the future spatial growth of the town; ensuring a prosperous economy) and local issues that may be the basis for catalytic short term and incremental projects that help to deliver the bigger picture over time (a new bridge; make better use of existing assets; infill development). The presentation noted the importance of positive planning to guide future development, and overcome potentially costly processes (e.g. public inquiries) driven by vested land interests and a combative approach to resolving issues. Planners have an important role as ‘gatekeepers’ in the process – in boom times the emphasis was on controlling the market to ensure places for the common good; now the focus is on how public bodies can work together to encourage the right sort of development to happen.

Different masterplanning approaches are relevant to different contexts. • Quartermile in Edinburgh was a specific plan and response to historic context • Inverness airport business park creates a landscape setting into which buildings can be located • Speirs Locks in Glasgow is an example of a framework without drawings, intended to guide actions and attract new uses to change perceptions of a place • Malmo is a place where vitality and difference are encouraged, bound by a quality public realm


Case Study A series of basic drawings produced by participants at the Dundee Design Skills Symposium was used to illustrate how a vision for a place can be supported by essential guiding principles that help to shape and guide future urban structure. A concept for overcoming barriers and connecting green spaces was developed to work with the grain of the site (e.g. land profile, watercourses, planting, field patterns, orientation, etc), establish linkages and connect with the surrounding context where possible. Considering movement patterns, public transport provision and the quality of walking routes influenced urban structure through informing a hierarchy of streets, establishing primary and secondary spaces, shaping the outline of blocks and massing, and identifying built frontages to address and contain public spaces and streets. More information about the case study and the Dundee Design Skills Symposium is available here.

Group work The participants at the masterplanning training event were divided into four groups, each of which had a specific agency representative along with a dedicated facilitator for each table. The groups were provided with a brief overview of the site, and the various agencies interests were described. The task was set to move between the concept and the detail, and at the end of the hour each group was asked to make a brief presentation that covered: 1. Concept / vision describe how the vision addresses both the large / strategic and the small / local 2. Define the ‘non-negotiables’ Identify the 3 ‘must haves’; what are 3 ‘desirables’ 3. Detail Describe what you want to create – can you convey an impression of the type of place that will be created – what will it look and feel like? 4. Each group to draw out a specific agency point relative to the representative at each table Midway through the session an additional site bordering the north of the major masterplan site was introduced with the requirement that the groups had to demonstrate how the masterplanning of these separate sites would be co-ordinated. 6

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Presentations / feedback Each group provided a brief presentation, which was followed by feedback from a review panel that comprised the A+DS Design Review panel member/ private practitioner (Ewan Anderson), A+DS Head of Design Review (Jill Malvenan) and Agency representative (Ranald MacInnes, Historic Scotland). The following is a summary of each group’s work.

Group 1 This group identified that a civic hub containing facilities such as shops, school, medical centre, etc. lay outwith and bordering the site. A major aim was therefore to provide connections that would enable high quality (and therefore sustainable) routes to link with the facilities and amenities and integrate across a wider area. Further non-negotiables were to provide a green corridor to link into strategic green networks; and to work with the existing historic fabric of listed buildings and their setting and the protected tree belt as this provided a unique quality and character for future development. This process started to guide where mixed use and higher density development might occur. The panel noted the respect and sensitivity to work with the context, and not pander to ‘suburban expectation’; and how development propositions might enables and generate further positive responses beyond the site boundary.

Group 2 The concept was to develop a sustainable area and link with the wider context. Key non-negotiables were to connect routes by linking with a strategic green corridor, and through using SUDS and watercourses as the basis to provide pedestrian links; to use the listed buildings as key assets, and to extend the setting of the major building across the trunk road to tame the road and link with the adjacent site to the north; and to make use of the flood zone as a positive feature around which to locate development. The panel commended the way that assets had been identified which could be used to generate commercial return; the efforts made to tame the trunk road in accordance with Designing Streets; the reintegration of civic scaled buildings as part of a community focus that challenged traditional response to suburban development; and the use of 3D sketches to explore the qualities of spaces that would be formed.


Group 3 A feature of this group’s work was to identify how the proposal might contribute to the wider economy and community. The vision was for a well-connected and active place that stitches together pre-existing large and small elements, and where new development can enable a sustainable future for the existing built heritage. Non-negotiables included ensuring a mix of uses to achieve activity across the site; providing high quality linkages through the site; and relocating the playing fields to the flood plain to maximise the benefit of the site. The panel feedback appreciated recognition of the need to be flexible to future change whilst maintaining long term ambitions for the area, and a desire to knit in to the surrounding physical and social fabric; in this context the feedback noted the benefits of not drawing a site boundary, which may be seen as a constraint that limits thinking.

Group 4 This group’s proposal addressed the limitations and opportunities for the area. The vision was for a well connected place that links to the surrounding areas. Non-negotiables included: Mixed use of activities; ensuring good connections and no building on the flood plain. The group also sought to break down and overcome the barrier of the trunk road, and proposed multi use of SUDS, and a CHP scheme for power generation. Feedback from the panel welcomed the detail that had been developed, which started to suggest possible phasing and delivery sequencing. The strong features of the site and character of the place had been recognised as a basis from which to develop a vision, which in turn had influenced the urban structure and built form. The importance of considering deliverability and how development might be enabled is extremely important, particularly in challenging economic circumstances where cross subsidy may be required that does not compromise design quality.


Conclusion Key points raised in the sum up were: • A vision should be authentically embedded in, and arise from, an understanding of the unique qualities of a place • A masterplan can exercise spheres of influence across a wider area, to maximise the potential of what lies both within and beyond the site • Masterplanning may not require a ‘big idea’ – ‘lots of small’ can be an authentic response to a given context • The purpose behind masterplanning is to enable people to live better lives – we therefore need to consider the experience of what is being proposed; what will the place look and feel like, how will it function, and how are people’s lives made better?


References and source material Resource pack Policy Overview presentation (Eric Dawson) - Slides; Video Practitioner presentation (Ewan Anderson, 7N Architects) - Slides; Video Photographs of the event and groupwork

Policy Scottish Planning Policy ( planning/National-Planning-Policy/newSPP) Designing Places ( pdf) PAN 83 ( A+DS: lessons learnt on masterplans ( files/4287_ADS_final_Materplanning.pdf)

Case studies Dundee Design Skills Symposium ( ads-sustainable-placemaking-3-placemaking-briefs-by-design-dundeedesign-skills-symposium-case-study) CABE website ( uk/20110118095356/ PAN 83 – see final section for case studies ( Resource/Doc/244134/0068213.pdf)

Further reading CABE – creating successful masterplans: a guide for clients (http:// Designing Streets ( Doc/307126/0096540.pdf) New Design in Historic Settings (



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