What is a Place Based Approach?


A place based approach is about understanding the issues, interconnections and relationships in a place and coordinating action and investment to improve the quality of life for that community.

Many communities across Scotland face common challenges and issues such as systemic poverty, ill health, poor environmental quality, or cycles of disinvestment.  However, the way in which these challenges are experienced, their impacts and the eventual outcomes for individuals in that area, will be influenced by the specifics of the local context, as well as the personal circumstances of individuals.  

There may be specific assets or capital in an area that makes it more resilient to pressures or, conversely, that makes it more vulnerable.  When how a place is structured and operates is fully understood, then decisions on investment, change or improvement can be coordinated, making best use of resources and maximising the outcomes for people living in that area.      

Place based approaches are not about understanding an issue or policy context in a particular geographical area.  They are about understanding the place and then planning policy responses that are coordinated with co-benefits across a range of outcomes.  They are collaborative  processes that take a long term approach and support the four pillars of the Christie Commission report – prevention, performance, participation, partnership.

Place based approaches in Scotland are not new, but recent policy changes around empowerment, community planning and public service reform, alongside the complex challenges of the climate emergency and public health, mean that there is renewed energy and focus on the approach. 

The adoption of the Place Principle by Scottish Government and COSLA signals a commitment to supporting place-based working across Scotland.  This requires partnerships not only across the public sector but with business and industry, the third sector and, crucially, with communities directly.

The Place Based Framework sets out a structure for how the aims of the Place Principle can be realised in Scotland and how positive transformation can improve the lives of citizens and release the potential within communities.  

Place-based Approaches to Joint Planning, Resourcing and Delivery

The Improvement Service have produced a report into Place-based Approaches to Joint Planning, Resourcing and Delivery. It provides an overview of some recent practice in place-based working in Scotland, looking at a range of scales and contexts.

Access the Place-Based approaches report here

The Place Based Framework

The Place Based Framework builds on existing good work across Scotland to provide a mechanism for how place-based working can be implemented effectively.

The simple goal is to make sure that efforts, investments and resources are brought together for the greatest overall benefit.

Access the Place Based Framework here

The Place Principle

Scotland has adopted a Place Principle.

The Place Principle promotes the need for communities, public organisations and businesses to work collaboratively with the assets and services in a place to achieve better outcomes.

Learn more about the Place Principle

Find out more About Place

Head back to About Place