Scalloway is the second largest settlement in Shetland. It was a former fishing village and currently has about 1300 residents. There is a mixed aged demographic, a lot of young people live in the village. With support from the Scottish Government’s Making Places fund and Shetland Islands Council, the local community council took upon themselves to lead on a process where the community would be central in prioritising local priorities for a new local place plan.
Scalloway Community Council has been leading on Recreate Scalloway, a community-led design initiative to produce input for a local development plan. The community had identified a series of issues in the village, such as traffic and parking problems, and old industrial buildings left derelict, that they wanted to look at ways to address. With funding from Scottish Government’s 2017/2018 Making Places initiative and support from Shetland Islands Council’s Planning Department and Community Planning & Development service, the community council has led on the Recreate Scalloway project, which has seen the local community come together to give their input for the development of a local place plan.
With access to the Making Places funding, the community council were able to use professional support from consultants with a background in developing place plans and managing community-led design process, such as charrettes.
Engaging the community in the consultation
The community council successfully engaged with the people in the village in a variety of ways to make sure that individuals, organisations, and businesses could share their ideas on what is working well in the area and what action and developments they would like to see going forward.
As part of the process, the consultants held a series of workshops in the community hall and everyone working and living in the village were welcome to attend. The consultants mapped out various areas, including possible sites for housing and transport improvements, and these ideas were discussed at the workshops. Participants were encouraged to share their issues and suggest ideas for improving Scalloway.
Scalloway Community Council also went door-to-door with a questionnaire and encouraged the community to share their views on community council’s Facebook page. Having the opportunity to get involved online as well as in person meant that people interested in the project could provide their input where they felt the most comfortable and when it suited them.
Challenges and advice
The Shetland Islands Council gave the project and community council a lot of support throughout the process. The development planners and planning officers provided a professional view, which could be an effective addition to help the consultation and the final place plan achieve its ambitions and ultimately improve the village. At the same time the external design professionals allowed for suggestions and issues to be considered with a town planning and a wider consultation perspective, but without prejudice of prior knowledge of issues and local planning.
To keep the project on track, so that outcomes in the end would be deliverable and not disjointed from the community, Scalloway Community Council found it important to support the consultants by feeding in their local knowledge to make sure that the consultants were aware of the practicalities of the ideas suggested.
The community council was aware that engaging the public from the start of the project was important. As advice, Scalloway Community Council recommends focussing on ‘the art of the possible’: a few ideas coming from the workshops would not be workable because they would require access and permission to use someone else’s land. Other things that came out from the consultation were not necessarily relevant to the development of a place plan but were other issues and ideas that people were interested in.
Scalloway Community Council advises identifying short term goals as well as medium- and long-term goals of consultations. This will help people to trust that their opinion is being heard and that something worthwhile will come from their contribution and the consultation as a whole.
Recreate Scalloway has helped to bring the community together. The consultation process encouraged people to discuss and engage on issues that they might not normally engage with. The community was encouraged to come up with solutions and to look at how they can work to improve their area themselves, relying less on others to come into the community and deal with issues on their behalf.
The project as whole has helped to raise the profile of the community council and helped them get to know more people in the village.
Next steps for the project
The consultation part of the Recreate Scalloway project has been completed and the community council will work with the design professionals to bring the ideas together into a local place plan that will cover achievable projects. The place plan will also help to provide community input into the local development plan for wider settlement planning and will provide goals for longer term planning of the village's growth and development.
The project has been a positive experience for the community and Scalloway Community Council. An important next step will be to get the prioritised projects in the place plan started. The initial funding for Recreate Scalloway was focussed on the design process so the next step will be to identify sources of funding to take the projects forward.
Want to find out more about Scalloway Community Council and keep up to date on Recreate Scalloway?
Visit the Recreate Scalloway website: http://scallowayplaceplan.com/
Find Scalloway Community Council on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ScallowayCC/