Community-led planning and development good practices

Good Practices

Town Action Planning/Parish Planning


Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), the national umbrella body of the Rural Community Action Network (RCAN) has been supporting and developing the concept of community-led planning (CLP) for over 20 years.

CLP is a step by step structured process enabling citizens to participate in decision making for their local area. This approach to community empowerment has been developed and refined in rural areas since the seventies.


ACREs vision is that rural communities will increasingly take a leading role in ensuring the social, environmental and economic well-being of all their residents.

CLP benefits the community in several ways:

Enables communities to unite behind a common vision which can help them strengthen their influence over decisions that will shape their future

Enable a community to draw down resources that would be otherwise unavailable

Can be a catalyst for community action

3.How does it work

Different models have been developed to suit different geographical contexts. These include Village Appraisals, Parish Plans, Market Town Action Plans and more recently, Neighbourhood Plans for more urban areas.

An overarching framework called the LEAD (L-launch the plan, E- evidence local need and aspirations, A- agree and prioritise actions, D Deliver and monitor outcomes) have been adopted to guide communities develop their plans.

Common to all these approaches are:

Creating a shared vision for the future

Action plans with clear smart objectives are created from the vision

Grounded in thorough research and consultation

Strong leadership from a committed group

Making links with local government and other partners


Over 4,000 communities across England have engaged in some form of CLP. Best practices, case studies and success stories are well documented and available to the public.

A planning toolkit have been prepared to guide communities how to develop community led plans.

A portal on CLP has been developed to house news, events, materials on CLP.

Some CLP in practice:

Parish Planning East England

Over 7 years in the East of England region, 231 communities created Parish Plans that contained over 9,000 individual actions to improve their locality, covering social, environmental and economic objectives. 47% of the actions were able to be taken on by the community themselves without any external support.

Of the remainder, 34% required negotiation with public service providers to bring them to fruition.

Martball Parish Plan

In Martball, Cheshire, the community used the evidence documented within their

Community Led Plan to successfully bid for an initial Big Lottery grant of £20,000 for planning and design, and then a further £326,000 to build a new eco Village Hall valued at around £400,000.

The community has almost raised the balance, of which £50,000 has been secured from Waste.

Source: Making the Connections Community Led Planning: An Introduction. Policy into Practice. Action for Market Towns. 2010 and

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