What is a framework?
A framework is a set of processes or activities widely accepted enough to serve as guiding principles. They act like maps guiding you which direction to go.
It is not intended to impose a rigid set of rules and constraints. Rather, it is a guide to start an initiative and inspire new ways of thinking.
Town Action Planning
One of the most frequently used community-led planning methodologies in England is the Town Action Planning. Aimed primarily at small and medium sized towns with population from 2,000 50,000, town action planning focuses on undertaking consultation about local issues and gathering local information to build a comprehensive picture.
It comprises 7 stages which are summarised here. For more information about the Town planning booklet, visit www.towns.org.uk.
Stage 1 - Setting up a partnership
Sometimes an existing leadership group will already exist or become part of an expanded partnership. A necessary first step is to identify a group of individuals who will take on the CLP exercise. The group needs to be representative of the interests of the town and surrounding area and requires someone to act as overall co-ordinator.
Stage 2 - Gaining community commitment
The town partnership then map out the issues of key concern to the community, possibly through a community event, and identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the town.
Stage 3 - Completing a facts and feedback process
At an early stage, a factual snapshot of the town, in terms of environment, economy. Social and community issues, transport and accessibility is created to aid further consultations. Then a more detailed evidence-base for the town is created, along with widespread consultation on local issues and needs. The community uses this, and their own experience, to explore what the priorities for the town are.
Stage 4 -Creating a vision
Using the evidence and experience base, a community event is held to pinpoint overarching vision for the town with some practical objectives to achieve it.
Stage 5 - Preparing an action plan
An action plan is created which details how the objectives in the vision document are to be achieved. This sets out resources (people, time, funding) priorities and timings, and sets out how the objectives will be monitored.
Stage 6- putting the plan into action
Undertaking the agreed actions to achieve the objectives, and then ensuring an effective monitoring and evaluation programme is in place.
Stage 7 - Sustaining the partnership
Ensuring the sustainability of the partnership is key to the continuing success of the CLP process and means that legalities should be explored, as well as longer term funding opportunities.