Circular No LG 25/2013





Annex A - Community Planning Foundation


This circular is intended to assist statutory transition committees and the
incoming councils during the shadow period in their preparations for the
introduction of the duty of community planning in April 2015. It is the fifth in a
series of Statutory Transition Committee guidance.

The circular is non-statutory guidance and comprises:

   • an introduction to the concept of community planning;

   • the proposed legislative framework to be introduced in 2015;

   • key principles, processes and recommended steps; and

   • community planning case studies.

Statutory Transition Committees should use this guidance to start the
preparatory work required prior to April 2015 so that new councils are able to
fulfill their statutory duty to initiate community planning and produce a
community plan.
Northern Ireland Community Planning
Foundation Programme
Preparations in Advance of 2015
Version 1 October 2013

Executive Summary                                                    i
       •   Local Government Reform                                   1
       •   What is Community Planning?                               1
       •   Local Government Bill – Community Planning Legislation    2
       •   Community Planning – Context and Reality                  3
       •   Purpose of the Foundation Programme                       4

Community Planning Foundation Programme                              6
       1. Getting Started – The Foundation Framework                 6
       2. Community Planning and the Community Plan – “The Basics”   8
       3. Key Principles                                             11
       4. Key Supports                                               15
       5. Key Processes and Recommended Steps                        18
       6. Delivering the Building Blocks of Community Planning       26

Key Links:                                                           28
   •   Pilots and Capacity Building                                  28
   •   Shaping Place: Links to Planning and Regeneration             29
   •   Alignment with Regional Initiatives and Strategies            29
   •   Performance                                                   30
   •   Development of Statutory Guidance                             31
   •   Evaluation and Support                                        31

Appendix 1: Summary of Key Steps                                     33
Appendix 2: How the Foundation Programme was Developed               35
Annex: Community Planning Case Studies                               39
Executive Summary
1. The Community Planning Foundation Programme has been developed as part of the
   preparations for the reform of local government. It is intended to help both Statutory
   Transition Committees, the new councils and their community planning partners to prepare
   for community planning in advance of the introduction of the statutory community planning
   duty in April 2015.

2. Community planning is:

    3. This provides a brief context for community planning within local government reform.
       It describes what community planning is, key aspects of the process, and the potential
       challenges and benefits it brings. The framework within which community planning will
       operate is outlined, including the legislation contained in the Local Government Bill.
       The purpose of the Foundation Programme and how it will support Statutory
       Transition Committees and the incoming councils in making preparations for
       community planning is also described.

    4. The Community Planning Foundation Programme is split into 6 sections:

       Getting Started – The Foundation Framework
    5. This provides a diagrammatic explanation of the outcomes, processes, frameworks
       and key principles that will inter-relate and influence the community planning process
       and community plan.

       Community Planning and the Community Plan – “The Basics”
    6. This section describes of the importance of the formulation of a vision and
       identification of outcomes, and some of the critical factors in creating a community
       plan for an area.

       Key Principles
    7. The underlying principles that will be necessary for community planning to work are
       identified as: Civic and Community Leadership, A Focus on Outcomes, Partnership
       Working, Participation and Engagement, Transparency and Openness, Equality and
       Diversity, and People Centered Delivery.

       Key Supports
    8. The key supports that are needed for community planning to work are identified as:
       Good Governance and Clear Accountability (for decision making and delivery),

Evidence and Learning – Information Gathering and Sharing, Communication,
   Community Development, and Resources.

   Key Processes and Recommended Steps
9. Recommended steps to put in place the building blocks for community planning are
   identified under the following headings: Alignment and Scope, Culture Change and
   Capacity Building, Governance and Structure which includes partnership and
   engagement, and Performance and Accountability.

10. The focus of activity is divided into 3 phases. Phases 1 and 2 relate to putting building
    blocks in place ahead of April 2015, and recommends that Statutory Transition
    Committees develop a project plan to take forward the preparatory work for
    community planning.

11. The key links relate to pilots and capacity building, and describe how the community
    planning process will inter-relate with planning and regeneration, regional initiatives
    and strategies, and performance indicators. Learning from the roll-out of the
    Foundation Programme will assist in the development of statutory guidance. There
    will be ongoing evaluation and support for the roll-out of the Foundation Programme.

12. This contains a summary of the key processes and recommended steps to prepare
    for the community planning duty.

13. This describes how the Foundation Programme was developed.

14. This contains case studies from across the island of Ireland, and background
    information on Scotland and Wales.

Community Planning Foundation Programme

      Local Government Reform
1.    Underpinning the reform of local government is the Executive’s vision of:
           “…a strong, dynamic local government creating communities
           that are vibrant, healthy, prosperous, safe, sustainable and
           have the needs of all citizens at their core.”
Central to the Executive’s vision for the local government sector is the provision of
high quality, efficient services that respond to the needs of people and continuously
improve over time. Critical to the delivery of this objective will be an effective, statute-
based community planning process led and facilitated by the new councils.

      What is Community Planning?
2.    Community planning is “a process led by councils in conjunction with partners
      and communities to develop and implement a shared vision for their area, a
      long term vision which relates to all aspects of community life and which also
      involves working together to plan and deliver better services which make a real
      difference to people's lives”.
3.    This requires understanding and responding to the long-term needs of local
      people and communities and delivering better outcomes for the area. The
      Community Plan will contain a shared vision and agreed outcomes, and will
      also identify and assign the key tasks necessary to deliver and achieve the
      vision and outcomes, including monitoring progress and assigning responsibility
      for delivery.
4.    Councils will have a statutory responsibility to lead community planning. Elected
      members will have an important role in the process, working with the council’s
      partners to involve local people and communities in the development of the
      shared vision and its subsequent delivery.
5.    A community planning partnership will provide leadership to the process. The
      council will identify the organisations, central government departments and
      agencies operating in their area that they will need to help them plan and
      provide services for their citizens, and contribute to achieving the Executive’s
      regional objectives. The process of building relationships between the various
      sectors and people involved will be an important factor in the success of
      community planning.

6.    The evidence base will provide a baseline upon which decisions can be made
      and against which progress can be monitored. Quantitative and qualitative
      information gathered will include census information, progress reports on
      existing plans, strategies and on service delivery improvements, and survey
      information. A solid, reliable evidence base will help the organisations and
      people involved commit to action.
7.    Community participation in the community planning process should be open
      and inclusive, and methods of engagement and consultation should be used
      that are most appropriate to a particular council’s circumstances. Effective
      public consultation and engagement will help ensure that the views of the whole
      community will be taken into account in decision making.
8.    The content of the Community Plan, and the challenges it sets out to tackle, will
      vary considerably from one council area to another. These differences will
      partly relate to the fact that they are different places, with different problems
      and possibilities. They will also relate to the different choices and preferences
      which councils and their communities make about the future of their area.
9.    In practice, councils and their partners may find that it is a long term and
      evolving process, and there will be challenges along the way in seeking to
      achieve effective partnerships and agreeing and implementing shared
      objectives and outcomes.

10.   Community planning can bring benefits in terms of easier to access, better
      integrated, local services; more effective collaboration across the public sector;
      better use of public resources; higher standards of public service; and
      willingness to innovate and learn from others. Organisations can gain a shared
      understanding of local issues and they can work together to deliver solutions
      without duplication. Sharing information between partners to build a reliable
      evidence base can assist in finding solutions.

      Local Government Bill – Community Planning Legislation
11.   The Local Government Bill will introduce the legislative provisions to make
      community planning a statutory process. The legislation will place a duty on
      local councils to initiate, maintain, facilitate and participate in the process, and
      on partners (which can be specified by way of subordinate legislation) to
      participate in and support community planning. Government departments will
      be required to promote and encourage community planning in exercising their
      functions. Community involvement will be included in the legislation to ensure
      that they have their say in the process. The legislation will take effect in April

12.   Plans will be reviewed at least every four years. Each plan will include
      objectives and actions to achieve these. The council and its partners will
      monitor progress in meeting the objectives and the effectiveness of the actions,
      and are likely to be required to publish a statement on this every two years.
      The first community plans are expected as soon as possible after there is
      consensus between the partners on the objectives and actions.

13.   The legislation will also introduce a statutory link between community planning
      and the local development plan to ensure an effective inter-relationship
      between the two processes.

      Community Planning – Context and Reality
14.   The context for community planning in Northern Ireland is impacted by 2 main
          a. the wider programme of local government reform resulting in the
             number of councils reducing from 26 to 11 and transfer of powers from
             central to local government; and
          b. the unique characteristics of each local area.
15.   Local government reform - it is important to recognise that the changes to local
      government that are being taken forward are far greater than has been the case
      elsewhere in the United Kingdom. The changes involve rationalising the
      number of councils, transferring services and powers from central government
      departments to local government, and providing the new councils with the
      statutory duty to lead the community planning process. This is in contrast to the
      introduction of the community planning duty in England, Wales and Scotland.
      There the councils are much larger than in Northern Ireland and already had a
      greater range of services and powers. Therefore the extent of the planned
      changes in Northern Ireland represents a considerable challenge.

      The local context - each council area will have its own unique characteristics,
      and the extent of the diversity within each area will present a challenge to the
      new councils in ensuring that they take on board the aspirations of different
      sections of the community. Councils will need to consider how to reach out to
      their urban and rural communities , bring together the resources to enable them
      to work together effectively amongst the other pressures and demands on
      them, and engage with community organisations which may not have the
      capacity to contribute to the community planning process as fully as they would

Purpose of the Foundation Programme
16.    The Community Planning Foundation Programme has been developed to
       support local government reform in Northern Ireland (see Appendix 2 for the
       background). It is intended to help councils and their community planning
       partners establish the foundations of an effective and efficient community
       planning process in advance of the introduction of the statutory duty. The
       programme is not mandatory but it is important that all 11 Statutory Transition
       Committees, and subsequently the incoming councils during the shadow
       period, make progress against the steps identified in this document. They will
       then be in a stronger position to take forward the community planning duty
       when it comes into force.

 17.   The Foundation Programme sets out the recommended steps that                  the
       Statutory Transition Committees (STCs) and the incoming councils during       the
       shadow period should take forward to put in place the building blocks          for
       community planning ahead of the statutory duty. The Programme does            not
       seek to implement a full community planning process – that will be led by     the
       new councils, and underpinned by the statutory duty. In summary,              the
       approach is:

                 Responsibility         Focus of Activity

 Phase 1:        Statutory Transition   Understanding the new council area and building the
 2013-14         Committees             foundations for community planning: building awareness
                                        & capacity, auditing and mapping to inform process
 Phase 2:        Incoming councils      Developing and negotiating the local approach to
 2014-15         during the shadow      community planning: defining outcomes and agreeing the
                 period                 processes and structures to support community planning

 Phase 3:        New Councils           Delivering and implementing community planning:
 2015 onwards                           Agreeing the vision, considering the links between the
                                        Community Plan and Local Development Plan; delivering
                                        outcomes and monitoring performance.

18.    Guidance for Phase 1 and 2 are contained in this document. Statutory guidance
       will be developed to assist new councils with implementing Phase 3, the full
       community planning process, when they receive the statutory duty in April

19.    The Foundation Programme aims to support an outcomes and people focused
       approach from the outset and help ensure effective accountability and
       performance management arrangements. The guidance in this document will
       assist the STCs and the incoming councils during the shadow period to:

•   identify appropriate models for an efficient and effective community
            planning process and begin to build relationships and address capacity
        •   consider appropriate mechanisms to facilitate community engagement;
        •   identify the data and analysis necessary to support community planning;
        •   consider the resource requirements to support the operation and effective
            delivery of community planning;
        •   consider how the related transferring functions of development planning
            and regeneration and other initiatives across government can best be
            integrated into the community planning process; and
        •   build on existing good practice.

20.   The Foundation Programme has been developed by the Pilots and Community
      Planning Working Group, with central and local government officials working
      collaboratively. It is intended that the experiences of the STCs and incoming
      councils during the shadow period in putting in place the community planning
      building blocks, will also help to shape and inform the guidance that will be
      issued to support the full introduction of community planning on issues such as:

         (1)   Creating a plan for the new council area;

         (2)   Partnerships and shared working;

         (3)   Memberships and engagement;

         (4)   Identification of appropriate governance structures;

         (5)   Creating performance measurement and accountability; and

         (6)   Linkages between local and central structures.

21.    Further guidance may be issued to augment this Foundation Programme as
       the local government reform programme progresses.

Community Planning Foundation Programme

1.     Getting Started - The Foundation Framework

1.     To help make the process of preparing for community planning more
       straightforward, the process has been broken into the following component

           •    Community planning and the Community Plan – “The Basics”
           •    Key Principles
           •    Key Supports
           •    Key Processes
           •    Summary of Recommended Steps

2.     A diagram that sets the key elements of the Foundation Programme into their
       wider context is set out on the following page.

The Community Planning Foundation Framework

2.   Community Planning and the Community Plan
     - “The Basics”
     Vision and Outcomes

3.   Community planning is not merely the process of collating a number of existing
     plans and practices but rather formulating a deliverable vision for a council area.
     It is a major undertaking and involves integrating all the various streams of
     public life, weaving these together and producing a statement of the future
     direction of the new council area. The community planning process will also
     inform the development of a council’s local development plan which will give
     effect to the spatial aspects of the community plan.

4.   The community planning process should achieve:
        •   a rigorous analysis of existing conditions in the new council area;
        •   an integrated view of the social, economic and environmental needs of
            the new council area in the context of regional, national and European
            policies and strategies;
        •   a long term vision for the future;
        •   a clear focus on tackling current reality in ways to achieve the long term
            vision; and
        •   a set of outcomes which can be monitored and measured.

5.   The most successful examples of community planning are premised on robust
     and vigorous analyses based on sound data and information frameworks. The
     community plan then seeks to use the information to determine and agree how
     the current situation can be improved for the benefit of all people in the new
     council area. The plan should be long term in nature and focus on the desired
     outcomes for the new area.

6.   By creating a joint partnership focus on outcomes for an area, community
     planning has the potential to assist with greater alignment between regional
     priorities (as outlined in the Executive’s Programme for Government and
     Economic Strategy, for example) and local priorities, creating a more integrated
     approach to solving problems and delivering benefits for citizens.

Creating a Plan for the new council area

7.    A community plan has many aspects and facets. Its basic objective is to create a
      long term vision which creates communities that are vibrant, healthy,
      prosperous, safe and sustainable and have the needs of all citizens at their core.
      The plan should seek to maximise resources and create effective and efficient
      outcome-focused service delivery.

8.    The vision in general should be ambitious and lend itself to the creation of real
      and challenging targets across a range of indicators. Successful community
      planning will have involved all significant public service deliverers in a council
      area and will have involved an effective two-way engagement with the

9.    Visioning will require the ability to be innovative, solution focused rather than
      problem focused, open, flexible, committed and deliverable. The creation of
      such a process is based fundamentally on the need to exhibit leadership in all
      sectors of Northern Ireland society, including the civic leadership of elected
      members, and to place a better life for citizens at the centre of any discussions
      and processes.

10.   The long term vision will generally be of at least 10-15 years duration. However,
      the crucial aspect of community planning is to translate the vision into shorter
      term (4 years or less) plans and actions with clear targets and lines of

11.   An effective Action Plan should:
      •   Link the outcomes to the vision, and set clear targets and measures for
          success within a limited timeframe;

      •   Establish clear responsibility lines to the delivery of these targets among the
          various agencies; and,
      •   Provide a clear review and monitoring process.

12.   In order to understand the potential for community planning to deliver
      meaningful change it is helpful to look at previous learning and approaches.
      The Annex to this report provides examples of case studies and learning from

across the island of Ireland and background to community planning in Scotland
      and Wales.

13.   Experience in other places has shown that some of the key success factors
        • Getting the right people around the table;

        • Having engaged and effective leaders who are committed to working
            together and driving cultural change in their organisations, ie. effective
            political and executive leadership;

        • Getting buy in from other agencies and building good vertical and
            horizontal relationships, including peer pressure between partners to help
            create accountability;

        • A focus on outcomes with clear accountability and interim performance

        • Integration / alignment between the regional and local level with linkages to
            government strategies and priorities;

        • Robust area based data and SMART analysis;

        • Dedicated resources to develop and oversee the plan delivery including
            ongoing support for implementation and investing in capacity in the form of
            partnership managers;

        • Engaging communities in the process;

        • Securing early successes through having a clear remit and a focus on a
            small number of key issues;

        • Ensuring that the plan drives the councils’ decision making in terms of
            investment, grant programmes, regeneration schemes, area planning and
            strategic aspects of service delivery; and

        •   Ensuring that the plan can be localised so that citizens and
            neighbourhoods feel its impact and benefit.

3.    Key Principles
14. The underlying principles which will be necessary for community planning to work
     effectively are set out below. The following principles have been developed from
     best practice, learning from ongoing approaches to community planning within
     Northern Ireland and from other jurisdictions, and have also been informed by the
     feedback from key partners as part of the engagement on the Foundation
     Programme (see appendix 2):

           •   Civic and Community Leadership.

           •   A Focus on Outcomes.

           •   Partnership Working.

           •   Participation and Engagement.

           •   Transparency and Openness.

           •   Equality and Diversity.

           •   People Centred Delivery.

     Civic and Community Leadership

15. Community planning is about developing, articulating and delivering on the
     ambition for the future shape of an area. Councils have a unique opportunity in
     leading and facilitating the community planning process and this leadership role
     will be central to its success. The leadership role for councils is not just about
     consulting with citizens and communities but ensuring that there is effective and
     genuine engagement. It will require the capacity for innovation and creativity in
     responding to local circumstances.

16. The experience and skills of locally elected representatives will be central in the
     new council arrangements. Community planning enhances civic leadership by
     bringing together statutory agencies and key stakeholders to act in partnership to
     secure outcomes that address local issues and needs. It can result in improved
     trust in local government; more responsive and accountable decision making;
     more accessible and empowered democratic representatives; and more
     opportunities for civic leaders to make a difference for the communities they
     represent. Councillors will have a critical role in localising as much decision
     making as possible and making sure residents know about these decisions.
17. These new opportunities for civic leaders will also place new demands on them.

     A Focus on Outcomes

18. Community planning provides an opportunity to focus on the longer term and
     shared outcomes which will benefit the quality of life of communities. Partnership
     working towards these shared outcomes should lead to better coordination and
     use of resources across the public sector and more effective accountability. It will
     enable community planning partners to focus on local issues whilst also ensuring
     alignment to regional priorities and strategies.

19. Outcome-focused community planning also has the potential to provide an
     effective framework for the integration of the functions transferring to councils
     under local government reform. By focusing on the long-term goals of local areas
     and linking these to regional priorities, community planning can put in place the
     effective partnership working necessary for the integration and improvement of
     services, effective regeneration of local areas and the implementation of the
     reformed planning process.

20. Intermediate goals and measures of success will support the ‘outcomes’
     approach and can be more readily monitored and assessed.

     Partnership Working

21. Community planning aims to improve the connection between regional, local and
     neighbourhood levels through improved partnership working and better use of all
     available resources. It recognises that no organisation alone can solve the
     problems or exploit the opportunities that exist in an area. This can only be
     achieved by working together. There will be significant challenges along the way
     in enabling a range of different agencies with different but complementary
     missions to come together to develop a shared vision for the promotion of an
     area's well-being. It requires commitment from all the partners, not just through
     agreement to a strategic vision, but also through action on the ground.

22. Bringing the key public sector agencies together is a necessary part of an
     effective community planning process, but is not sufficient on its own to promote
     successful community planning. Beyond the public sector there is recognition that
     there are a wide range of businesses, voluntary organisations, community and

other groups which make vital contributions to promoting the social, economic
     and environmental well-being of an area.

23. There will also be a need for ongoing changes to culture, attitudes and
     behaviours to achieve genuine community focus. Investment in shared capacity
     building will be needed and time must be spent on building new relationships and

     Participation and Engagement
24. Effective participation and engagement is a cornerstone of community planning,
     and it reflects the Executive’s vision for local government.

25. Engagement is the process of developing on-going, mutually beneficial and two-
     way relationships with communities and community planning partners. It is about
     giving people access to information and the chance to have a greater say and
     influence over what happens in their community. Effective engagement should
     encourage and facilitate participation.

26. It is important to note that there is no fixed approach to engagement or
     participation. There are many different methods available and it will be important
     to select the most appropriate methods for the optimum level of involvement
     during the process. However, engagement and participation should be open and
     inclusive, and equality considerations should be taken into account and efforts
     made to remove barriers to engagement.

27. Effective engagement of communities is a long-term process and is likely to be
     most effective and meaningful at a local or neighbourhood level. As communities
     will vary considerably between different areas, the challenge facing councils and
     their community planning partners will be to develop approaches that best suit
     local circumstances.

28. The Planning Act 2011 will place a requirement on councils to produce a
     statement of community involvement setting out how the council intends to
     involve the community in the delivery of their planning functions, including the
     preparation of the local development plan. Participation and engagement is also
     recognised as a key underlying principle and process within this Foundation

29. Guidance and good practice in community engagement are set out in the case
      studies in the Annex. The Annex also includes the Scottish National Standards for
      Community Engagement and examples from Northern Ireland.

      Transparency and Openness
30. Community planning requires transparency and openness in relation to the
      evidence base used to understand need and set priorities, engaging and involving
      key partners and communities, and performance management systems used to
      monitor progress and accountability. This is important for securing buy-in to the

      Equality and Diversity

31. Community planning should reflect and respect the diversity across Northern
      Ireland, and incorporate equality and good relations duties. Understanding the
      unique needs and building on the unique strengths of each new local council
      district and its communities will be a key feature of community planning.

32.   Community planning must not only take into account equality and diversity but it
      can also play a key role in championing it. Building equality and diversity into the
      community planning process will help ensure that it responds to the diverse needs
      of areas and communities.

      People Centred Delivery

33. Community planning should be people centred. The wellbeing of an area and the
      quality of life of its citizens should be the principal reference point in identifying
      the key problems and opportunities in an area. Community planning needs to be
      genuinely open to and concerned about peoples’ needs, therefore listening to and
      engaging with local people and the organisations that represent their interests will
      be important.

34. Moreover, community planning is about finding local solutions for local issues.
      Therefore, whilst we can share and potentially transfer good practice, community
      planning is about translating that in such a way that it is meaningful and effective
      for a particular local area. Flexibility and adaptability will be crucial elements for
      successful community planning.

4.    Key Supports
35. This section outlines some of the key supports that are needed for community
     planning to work. Like all processes it needs a sound foundation on which to
     build. The legislative base and linked regional policies and strategies will provide
     a starting point, but additional supports will also be needed. It is recommended
     that Statutory Transition Committees and incoming councils during the shadow
     period give consideration to the following:

     Good Governance and Clear Accountability (for decision making and
36. The governance and accountability arrangements for community planning are
     important to its success, both at the local area and in terms of the relationships
     between the local areas and regional agencies and Departments, and with the
     Executive. It is needed to support decision-making and delivery, and facilitates
     better partnership working to achieve outcomes. Developing and building good
     governance and accountability processes will have its challenges given the
     breadth of change happening at the regional level and the range of existing and
     potential partners and structures that exist locally. Statutory Transition
     Committees and the incoming councils during the shadow period should continue
     to negotiate this arrangement with regional government as local structures
     emerge. This is considered in more detail in the next section on ‘Process’.

     Evidence and Learning - Information Gathering and Sharing
37. Information gathering and sharing is essential to the success of community planning
     as is joint working between agencies, which should ultimately lead to better
     outcomes for all. It is required for a variety of reasons:

        •   to assess community needs appropriately and accurately;
        •   to gain a shared understanding of need;
        •   to provide a basis for joint planning and targeting of resources;
        •   to assist in performance management and the setting and monitoring of
            shared targets;
        •   to improve efficiency and reduce duplication;

        •   to promote mutual understanding by sharing key organisational information
            ; and
•   to improve customer service and promote consistency in customer care.

38. One of the first steps to enable the Statutory Transition Committees and incoming
     councils to prepare for community planning will be to carry out an information
     audit to identify what information currently exists and is required to support
     community planning in their new council area. The audit should identify what
     information is available currently (such as NISRA held data, council information
     and that held by partner agencies) and what gaps exist. It should also identify
     examples of good practice in sharing information, the barriers to collating and
     using information, and how relevant information can be gathered efficiently and
     effectively. This will give each new council area a sound base from which to
     develop a strategic approach that will support evidence based decision making
     and the monitoring of performance.

39. Community planning brings agencies together and encourages information
     sharing and more informed decision-making. In particular, it provides the
     opportunity for improved information sharing, not just between public sector
     organisations, but also with the voluntary, community and private sectors.
     Examples of good practice in the development of information databases and
     information sharing can be found in the case studies at in the Annex.

40. Meaningful and effective communication will be essential throughout the
     community planning process. However it will be particularly important during the
     early stages in order to build shared understanding and trust, and will be essential
     in helping to ensure that the roles of the various partners are well understood.

     Community Development
41. To enable all communities to engage and participate in community planning, it is
     important that they are equipped with the necessary skills and capabilities.
     Community development enables people to come together to influence or take
     decisions about issues that matter to them and that affect their lives, to define
     needs, issues and solutions for their community, and to take action to help
     themselves and make a difference. Therefore adopting a community development
     approach will be a key support and enabler in the community planning process.
     This is particularly important for those communities not as well equipped to
     engage and participate as others.

42. Effective community planning should lead to better co-ordination of service
     delivery and less duplication of services, thereby resulting in efficiency savings.
     This will mean that councils and their community planning partners will be able to
     make better use of existing resources. A commitment to share and re-align
     resources will be a critical success factor for community planning.

43. Examples of good practice in the pooling and sharing of resources can be found
     in the Annex case studies.

5.     Key Processes and Recommended Steps
44. This section explores the key processes which will need to be developed in
     preparation for community planning and includes recommended steps that should
     be undertaken in advance of 2015. Many of the processes are inter-connected,
     but can be grouped as follows:

                                     Getting Started

                             Alignment            Building and
                                 and               Culture
                               Scope               Change

                         Supporting Planning and Delivery

                     Partnership        Engagement          Governance

                                   Monitoring and Review


Alignment & Scope

 45.     Early steps in community planning involve both scoping out the information
         already available and also the extent to which that information could be shared in
         order to help build a common understanding of the needs and opportunities that
         exist in an area.

 46.     No new council area is dealing with a “blank canvas”, but preparatory work is
         needed to understand the new local area and how previous strategies and plans
         can be used to inform the new vision and plan. Steps should be taken to ensure
         there is an evidence based approach to understanding the new locality and the
         needs of the new area and to establish an effective and efficient approach to
         information gathering and sharing, essential for informing community planning

                                       Alignment & Scope
                                       Recommended Steps

   i.   A clear audit of the existing plans/strategies for the new council area for all sectors
  ii.   Desk-based collation of existing short, medium and long-term plans and strategies
        which currently impact or relate to the new council area.
 iii.   Identify the key issues that will inform the development of the long-term vision
        through a fact based audit.
 iv.    Mapping of current priorities, plans, programmes (including service delivery) and
        funding as a way of uncovering duplication and gaps in addressing issues.
  v.    Consider and correlate the current information that the councils hold on any aspect of
        the new council area.
 vi.    Consider any current information sharing processes between sectors that exist in the
        new council area.
vii.    Research other information sources that may exist which provide information on the
        new council area and how easily accessible these are.
viii.   Seek to identify good/effective practice on information-sharing within the new council

Culture Change & Capacity Building

47.   Community planning challenges traditional ways of working and delivering
      services. It requires the development of new attitudes, behaviours, skills and
      competencies that will underpin joined-up policy development, effective
      partnership working and effective engagement. It will place new demands on
      community planning partners, from those in decision-making positions to those
      working at the point of service delivery. The early investment in awareness and
      capacity building will be essential to bring about the cultural change and skills
      needed to deliver community planning.

48.   Councillors may fulfil a number of a key roles in the community planning process:

        •   as members of a community planning partnership, including thematic
            groups where they may hold a strategic leadership role;
        •   as members of partnership bodies, where they may assist in considering
            the contribution of the partner body to community planning;
        •   as representatives or the “voice” of communities;
        •   as members of sub-groups or working groups associated with community
            planning partnerships to which they can contribute their own specialist
            interests, experience or expertise;
        •   as representatives on various other bodies with a stake in community
            planning, such as area or joint committees; and
        •   through regular liaison with relevant partner bodies on initiatives which can
            make a positive contribution to community planning processes.

49.   Both councillors and members of partner bodies will require support. That could

        • regular briefings on key community planning issues and developments;
        • capacity building and skill-sharing workshops;
        • development of electronic networks, discussion forums and so forth, for
            sharing experiences and good practices.

50.   Capacity building should be undertaken with all community planning partners.

Culture Change & Capacity Building
                                 Recommended Steps

 i.    Undertake initiatives aimed at raising awareness of the issue of community
       planning and what best practice looks like through a programme to target all
       those who will play a role in community planning.
ii.    Begin a capacity building programme with elected members to raise awareness
       of community planning and its implications and to begin to equip them with the
       additional skills to take on this new role.
iii.   Consider and organise a number of seminars/conferences, to raise awareness,
       and to debate and discuss the development of community planning in the new
       council area.
iv.    Identify champions in each partner organisation to help develop the community
       planning process and to support change management and capacity building
       within their organisation.

Partnership                Governance & Structure                 Engagement

      Partnership Working
51.   The success of community planning will be grounded in the development of
      effective partnership working between organisations delivering public services in
      the council area and between these organisations and the communities they

52.   The community planning legislation and subsequent guidance may specify which
      organisations will be required to participate in community planning. The active
      participation of public sector agencies, especially those with significant public
      resources, will be required to ensure that community planning works. It is
      essential, therefore, that relationships are established with these agencies.
      Where existing relationships are well established, these should be further
      developed and where not, actively pursued.

53.   Community planning involves the creation of a strategic partnership structure
      supported by a number of partnerships focussed on themes or particular
      communities. Councils should take the opportunity to look at the various
      partnership arrangements that are already in place and which may be needed in
      the future to ensure that it is not overly complex, and is fit for purpose.

54.   Considerable research exists in terms of effective partnership working and this is
      set out in the Annex case studies.


55.   The method used by councils and community planning partnerships to engage
      with communities should reflect the circumstances of their particular area. For
      example, the structure and working practices of organisations and groups in rural
      areas will differ from those in urban areas. As a result, each will require distinct
      approaches aimed at achieving broad local ownership of the process.
      Individuals, communities and representative bodies should feel that their views
      have been listened to and taken into account. Effective local engagement can be
      difficult to achieve, so it may be appropriate to try alternative approaches.
      Examples of different approaches can be found in the case studies in the Annex.

Governance - Developing structures to support Community Planning

56.   To ensure the community planning process is effective there will be a need for
      involvement and participation from a wide range of sectors and organisations.
      Many of these organisations are already participating in partnership working
      across Northern Ireland delivering noticeable benefits as a result. Building and
      learning from these should be natural starting points for the new councils.
      Community planning may require a different approach to partnership working, for
      example to overcome any tensions that will arise over prioritisation, especially
      where there are limited resources.

57.   Statutory Guidance will be issued ahead of the introduction of the community
      planning duty that will assist with possible governance structures or models to
      facilitate community planning. In the interim it is recommended that each new
      council area should consider establishing a district-wide Community Planning
      Partnership which will have responsibility for creating the vision and key priorities
      and for ensuring it is resourced and deliverable. Beneath this, other supporting
      structures are likely to be required and may include:
        • a small number of thematic partnerships responsible for creating more
           detailed plans on specific issues; and
        • local area partnership arrangements working with local communities to
           ensure the district / thematic plans address the needs of local people.

58.   The STCs and the incoming councils during the shadow period and their
      partners should develop arrangements which work best for their areas, having
      regard to what is already in place and working well, and to the key challenges
      facing the area.

Partnership               Governance & Structure                Engagement
                                      Recommended Steps

  i.    Conduct an audit of all existing partnership arrangements in the new council area.
 ii.    Map this existence and seek to identify duplication, gaps and the possibility for more
        effective working.
iii.    Consider models of best practice in partnership working in the new council area and
        create a list of key elements which ensure effective working.
iv.     Consider the current organisation of the business community and private sector in the
        new council area and begin a dialogue about their role and participation in community
 v.     Consider the current organisation of the community and voluntary sectors in the new
        council area and begin a dialogue about their role and participation in community
vi.     Assess current arrangements across the sectors within the new council area for
        engaging with local people, and use this as a baseline to help develop more joined up
        community engagement processes.
vii.    Map out the current engagement with other public agencies in the new council area
        and consider the quality of the relationships and the gaps in engagement.
viii.   Begin a process of active engagement with the public agencies which are key to the
        ongoing development of the new council area.
 ix.    Consider any current models of working at local area level. How effective are they
        and what is their potential within the community planning process?
  x.    Use the strategy mapping and audit of existing partnerships to identify and
        understand the core issues for each new council area and consider how the issues
        could be used to create a series of thematic partnerships.
 xi.    Consider what a “fit for purpose” model of partnership would look like to deliver and
        implement community planning in the area. Consider the roles, decision making and
        resource allocation processes and accountability, and how partnerships link to the
        planning and decision making processes of the organisations involved.
 xii.   Begin a process of engagement on possible structures and architecture.

Performance & Accountability

  59.     Under the proposed legislation for community planning councils and their partners
          will monitor progress against community planning objectives and produce a
          statement on progress. Community planning should focus on results rather than
          process and should ideally be measured in relation to the outcomes it achieves.
          However, achieving outcomes requires a series of intermediate steps, some taken
          by individual bodies and some jointly. Being able to monitor progress and
          performance calls for robust and sound data/information, as well as integrating
          performance improvement and accountability frameworks that connect with the
          actions of local and central government and key agencies. These are needed to
             a) an alignment of the use of resources at local and regional level;
             b) clarity on accountability for the delivery of actions;
             c) a focus on delivery; and
             d) connecting performance improvement and accountability at the local level
                with regional outcomes and targets.
  60.     Elsewhere in the UK a focus on outcomes has allowed greater alignment between
          regional priorities (such as is outlined in the Executive’s Programme for
          Government and Economic Strategy for example) and local priorities, creating a
          more integrated approach to delivering outcomes. The Annex contains an
          example of a Scottish Single Outcome Agreement and how national priorities are
          translated at a local level.
                                    Performance & Accountability
                                         Recommended Steps
 i.     Audit current performance management processes among those organisations operating in
        the new council area and assess the issues which need to be addressed in attempting to
        create more coherence and consistency, where appropriate.
ii.     Develop a robust performance / data information framework to enable the new council area
        to monitor and report on progress and performance against the community plan.
iii.    Ensure the performance management process is able to monitor progress against
        outcomes, and embed an outcomes based approach from the outset.
iv.     Consider the connections between management frameworks at a local level and emerging
        regional frameworks.

6. Delivering the Building Blocks of Community Planning
61.     The period up until April 2015 is the opportunity for local government and its
        partners to develop capacity, learning and experience in leading a citizen-
        focussed, multi-agency approach to community planning. The following phased
        approach is recommended as an overall framework:

Phase               Focus of Activity                                              Responsibility

2013 -14:           Understanding the new district area and preparing for          Statutory
                    community planning by:                                         Transition
  The Building       •   Auditing and mapping of existing communities, needs
   Blocks of             and assets, plans & partnerships etc.
  Community          •   Developing awareness and building capacity of key
   Planning              stakeholders to participate and engage in the process.
                     •   Developing the processes and identifying the possible
                         structures necessary to support community planning.

2014 -15:           Developing and agreeing the “what” and “how” of                Incoming
                    community planning for the new local area by:                  Councils during
                                                                                   the shadow
  The Building       •   Refining and negotiating local processes and structures
   Blocks of             – e.g. governance and monitoring arrangements.
  Community          •   Continuing to build capacity & participation across
   Planning              sectors.
                     •   Continuing the process of dialogue and engagement to
                         consider community planning outcomes for the new
                         local area.

2015                Agreeing the approach to Community Planning and                New Councils
                    implementing the subsequent Community Plan:

      Delivering     •   Agreeing the area Vision and publishing the
      Community          Community Plan. Considering links between the
       Planning          Community Plan and Local Development Plan.
                     •   Delivering against the plan - monitoring & reporting
                     •   Continuous review and development of community
                         planning processes and structures.

62.     The above table provides a framework within which the STCs and then the
        incoming councils during the shadow period can take forward their preparatory
        work for community planning. The first phase, led by the STCs, is mainly about
        building understanding, awareness, and capacity. The second, led by the incoming

councils during the shadow period, will take the process forward into negotiating
      partnerships, considering outcomes, and establishing structures.

63.   In practice the steps are unlikely to be separate and distinct as set out in the
      framework, as some themes may be already developed.

64.   Once preparations begin, opportunities may arise to identify key outcomes, and to
      begin working together on them. This will assist in learning about community
      planning and the challenges it presents.

65.   It is recommended that STCs develop a Project Plan for taking forward the
      preparatory steps for community planning in their area using this framework, with
      the involvement of the key statutory partners. The commitment of those partners
      to the Programme may be underpinned by a partnership agreement setting out
      their respective roles and responsibilities. The STCs will be the lead partner.

Community Planning Foundation Programme

Key Links
      Pilots & Capacity Building

1.    The Community Planning Foundation Programme provides a framework and
      learning platform to develop and refine practical working arrangements, build
      new relationships, and inform the development of subordinate legislation and
      guidance for the new arrangements.

2.    It is the Department’s intention that the 11 council clusters should take forward
      the Community Planning Foundation Programme, and they will be provided with
      support through the capacity building programme. The Working Group has also
      developed a capacity building framework which sets out the skills,
      competencies and underpinning knowledge needed by councils and partners to
      create and implement effective community plans. The framework is assisting
      the Department in identifying key activities to be included in the overall local
      government reform capacity building programme.

3.    The Department also intends to support the 11 council clusters in taking
      forward preparatory work for local development plans, which will assist in re-
      coupling the planning and regeneration powers that are key functions
      transferring to local government. There is an opportunity for STCs to take
      forward some preparatory work for community planning and local development
      plans in tandem. For example, community engagement is at the core of both
      the creation of the community plan and the local development plan, with the
      new Planning Act 2011 requiring a statement of community involvement to be
      in place before the preparation of a council’s local development plan. Gathering
      information to establish an evidence base will also be mutually beneficial to
      both processes.

4.    In addition to preparatory work for local development plans, the Working Group
      has produced a menu of pilots which will allow local government and its

partners to test other aspects of delivery arrangements for community planning,
     spatial planning and regeneration. The design of the pilot programme reflects
     the strong interconnectedness between these three key functions of local
     government post reform. The menu of pilots will be issued as part of a larger
     research document, which will set out baseline information gathered through a
     series of visits to all councils last year (2012). The research document will also
     assist with capacity building and will be issued in November 2013.

     Shaping Place: Links to Planning and Regeneration

5.   The statutory link between community planning and the creation of the local
     development plan, together with the transfer of regeneration powers, should
     afford councils a real opportunity to place-shape, aligning physical development
     with the economic, social and environmental priorities of their areas. These
     links will also assist in contributing to the development of communities which
     enjoy a better quality of life and are more sustainable. The integration of these
     functions should provide a much better insight, perspective and a productive
     joined-up approach which optimises the opportunity to make the best use of all
     the strengths available.

6.   Linking service delivery, long term objectives of an area, and physical planning
     and regeneration, will change the way our areas are planned and will bring and
     sustainable development into sharper focus.

     Alignment with Regional Initiatives and Strategies
7.   Northern Ireland Departments are progressing work in a number of areas that,
     following the re-organisation of local government, are likely to be key aspects
     for consideration in the community planning process. These include:
      •   Policing and Community Safety Partnerships and the proposed plans
      •   Transfer of Neighbourhood Renewal programmes to local government
      •   Transfer of Rural Development Programmes
      •   Joint working between councils and the new Public Health Agency
      •   The Social Investment Fund

8.   Northern Ireland Executive Ministers are also progressing with cross-cutting
     strategies and programmes that are being considered in the context of the
     proposed community planning duty on councils. Community planning offers

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