Getting views of preplan

Engagement tools and applications

In line with the Scottish Planning system being transparent, accessible and inclusive the engagement of stakeholders is critical for decision makers and for those seeking to understand how they influence or become involved. As set out within the National Standards for Community Engagement and the National Planning Framework 4 consultation and engagement is important at all stages the planning process. This can be illustrated within both Development Plan and Development Management spheres in planning but also evident within proposals or projects being progressed by community organisations and businesses. The tools now set out reflect such scenarios and may apply across one or more.



Commonplace is a digital platform which allows you to ‘Collect, analyse, and act on real-time, valuable data from local communities and stakeholders with a range of powerful features including surveys, mapping tools, discussion forums, and social media integrations’ (

This has been used across a number of local authorities across the UK, including the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA). During 2021 the CNPA asked for community views on a number of major issues affecting the national park including the climate emergency, local employment opportunities, housing and public transport. The CNPA set up an interactive heatmap of the area which allowed the community to drop a pin and answer some questions. This ultimately provided a visual representation of the area and where issues were arising that required further consideration. Using the Commonplace Dashboard, responses could be filtered to categories the main issues being raised from the 982 contributions and separating these into 3 categories: Nature, People and Places.

East Devon District Council, amongst others, recently also hosted their Draft Local Plan consultation through Commonplace.

Even once a project is finished, the information is still accessible through Commonplace. This helps to maintain trust between Councils or Planning Authorities and communities so they can see what work is going to be done and will be more likely to contribute to future projects. East Devon District Council have a ‘latest news’ section which remains up to date with the next stages in the process. Through Commonplace links can be provided to share via Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter or email digital mediums providing opportunities to share with others.

Employing digital technology into house building allow better conversations with communities is also becoming prevalent. East Devon District Council provided the opportunity for communities to comment on policies, through Commonplace, but also proposals. Proposed housing, mixed use and employment site allocations (including rejected sites) were outlined, providing opportunity for comment.

The below link is to a webinar on ‘How can digital innovation enhance the planning of new homes?’ providing some helpful information on how this might be undertaken in local authorities:

Citizen Space (Geospatial)

Citizen Space (Geospatial) is a place-based engagement platform that allows for the inclusion of maps and geospatial data in consultation and engagement activities. A number of Scottish local authorities use this platform including Clackmannanshire Council, City of Edinburgh Council and Midlothian Council.

Citizen Space Geospatial directs users to consider the type of information required for the desired outputs, including the below options.

In addition to mapping there are a number of other questions that can be asked including multiple choice, text comments, demographics and more. Citizen Space Geospatial is a unique platform to seamlessly integrate maps throughout consultations, engagement activities, surveys and response forms.


Maptionnaire is a platform to design and manage community engagement. The platform allows data to be collected, communicate plans and make decisions. This was used as a spatial planning consultation platform in Gothenburg, Sweden in developing a greater understanding of artist culture in the city. Respondents were asked to place a pin to show the locations of cultural/ artist working spaces in the city.

The survey collected around 800 location pins from local artists. In using the analysis and visualisation options available through Maptionnaire, it was possible for these location points to be transferred into informative maps showing chains and clusters of the locations of small and larger scale cultural workshops, premises and institutions.

Maptionnaire has also been used a platform for community engagement in Scottish local authorities. An example of this, is in Edinburgh City Council where Maptionnaire was used for community engagement on shaping the future of Edinburgh’s Parks and Green Spaces. The tool was reported by the Council as being easy to use and an engaging survey tool, with helpful customer support.

ESRI Hub Technology

ESRI also have a demonstration site, using ESRI software, showing the potential for that next level of engagement using Hub technology. An example of a fictitious Leith engagement has been developed to show visually how the Hub technology can be used and this one with a 3d view ESRI provide the different widgets and tools to allow planners to easily pull together a custom engagement tool.

Ice Cream Architecture

Ice Cream Architecture are a Scottish based consultancy company who are interested in place and have worked with communities across the country, and further afield, to make places better. Some of their recent case studies are listed below, each with a specific emphasis on online learning and online portals.

• ‘Innovating communities – A 3-year innovation and training project empowering local people to work together and overcome local challenges in Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. So far, we have worked with groups to design over 80 local solutions, each using Design Thinking methods tailored to the unique context and priorities of the challenges. We deliver the programme in-person and online via a specially-designed online learning platform and support groups to try innovative ideas out in their locality.’

• ‘Places that we know – Over several years we worked closely with local people in North Ayrshire and Renfrewshire to build capacity, practical tools and bespoke interpretation for conserving, exploring and celebrating local heritage. These included a digital heritage archive, a mobile app for creating walking/cycling/wheeling trails, 20 sculptures dotted across the landscape, a programme of guided heritage walks, a 360º VR film, paper maps and workshop programme.’

• ‘Our Community, Our Future – We worked with the community in Stratherrick & Foyers to develop a Community Action Plan that outlined their challenges and aspirations both now and set a framework for achieving their goals. Over 6 months, we carried out in-depth consultation via community assemblies and an online ideas bank hosted on a dedicated online portal, including a blog, explainer videos and mailing list.’

Links to training on 'Getting views of preplan'

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