Planners Network UK – People’s Plans

[This document was formerly on the wikispaces site which has now lapsed. Fortunately Robin Brown of Just Space had saved a copy, so here it is. August 2015 ] With later additions.

Compilation from various authors.

Planning is usually seen as the domain of governments, private consultancies and even developers. It tends to wrap itself up in claims about expertise, technical competence and professionalism. Yet planning is a potentially far more democratic, radically democratic, activity than this. And that’s because it offers all of us, as citizens of our neighbourhoods, the opportunity to think and act creatively about the future of the places we live in, to creative alternative visions.

There are many examples of community led plans and campaigns which have succeeded in stopping public and private sector development proposals and realising alternative community inspired visions in their place. They are small in scale, but have significantly shaped the function and form of British cities, and even the approach of planning itself. Movements such as the Homes Before Roads campaign in the early 1970s contributed to the eventual revolution of transport planning, particularly as it was being practiced in London. More contemporary campaigns such as Homes Under Threat are bringing people together to fight demolitions in housing market renewal areas. And recent efforts by local campaigners on the London Plan are also helping identify alternative visions.

This section of our website is about just those kinds of planning activities – by ordinary people creating alternative plans from those being foisted on them by governments and developers. So we’ve called it ‘People’s Plans’.

Advice and Funding

Free advice for communities to support neighbourhood planning at

For other kinds of support and assistance also see:
Transport 2000 (now Capital Transport campaign) tries to bring transport workers and transport users together to campaign for better public transport in Greater London. Contact

Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation and Planning for Real – founded by Tony Gibson in the 1977 and now a well-established tool used by the team at the Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation for helping local people do planning.

Town and Country Planning Association – a leading charity campaigning for a planning system more responsive to people and sustainable development. See their website, campaigns and tools and resources here:

Community Development Foundation at
Friends of the Earth planning pages at:
Ethical Property Foundation at

An excellent how to do it handbook – Community Planning Handbook by Nick available at
David Wilcox is really well worth reading too – and the following gives only a tiny example :
The Environment Trust at :
Community Land Use
Association of Community Technical Aid Centres at
New Funding and Delivery Mechanisms
Community Development Trusts – approximately 753 spread right across every region of the UK find them at
Equally interesting though certainly far far fewer in number, are Community Land Trusts, see this website:

Campaigns and networks
There are many regional or UK-wide campaigns and networks relating to planning issues that are not just about one neighbourhood or project, but are about the system, wider impacts and the things that affect our everyday lives. Here we’ve pulled together as many as we know about with some information and links to help.
Homes Under Threat (HUT) – In response to the threat of demolition in Housing Market Renewal areas, some residents groups have successfully managed to resist demolition and ensure investment in existing housing stock through producing their own community plans.  Contact Sylvia Wilson, coordinator of Homes Under Threat network:

Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens
Tescopoly –  This is a UK-wide network of campaigns against the giant supermarket corporation – see their website at  PNUK has recently held meetings for people concerned with the impacts of large supermarkets, their land banks, and the way they manipulate the planning system. You can read about the results of that meeting and find out more on our supermarkets page:

Lammas is about low impact developments. It both campaigns for these, and actually builds them. See their website at

This Land is Ours – a land rights campaign for Britain to campaign for access to the land, its resources and decision-making processes about them, for everyone. TLIO run campaigns, have a magazine, helpful resources and an email list you can join. See their website for all of this at
Projects and Plans
There are also many locally-based, sometimes small but always significant projects, campaigns, plans and activities going on all around the UK. Here we’ve tried to list as many as we in PNUK know about. Where we know a bit about the story, we’ve provided that here, where we don’t we can just provide some contact details and links for you to find out more.

Calthorpe Community Garden –

Covent Garden Community Association – without the local community based action since the 1970s that this group has been doing, Covent Garden would today be just another anonymous urban motorway surrounded by drab office blockks and segregated public realm, probably ripe for redevelopment! Find out more about their long-standing campaign and activities, how they did it and their events here

Coin Street – perhaps the most-cited contemporary example of community building in the UK today. Located on London’s South Bank, Coin Street redevelopment began from the local people, who mounted a campaign to purchase some land and regenerate their local neighbourhood. See here for more information
Added 2019: a long and carefully-referenced critical history by Will Jennings appeared in Medium at

In Liverpool, the Eldonians successfully battled with Derek Hatton and Militant against demolition of their homes, leading not only to the retention and refurbishment of Eldon Street tenements and surrounding area but through the grant of over £1 million to their Association by Mrs Thatcher (to spite Hatton et al), and the eventual redevelopmet of the old Tate and Lyle factory site. Since then, Eldonians Community Based Housing Association are still going strong and they have developed hundreds of affordable homes, health sports and other social  and cultural infrastructure. For more information visit their website here:
They have also published a book on their experiences called ‘The Rebirth of Liverpool -The Eldonian Way’ – see some images & details in their 2007 annual report at this link.

Stonebridge Estate in Brent –In the 1980s, communities used Planning for Real (assisted by CLAWS and PAL) and the Stonebrige Tenants Advancement Committee to establish a Housing Action Trust and the redevelopment of the estate into mainly high density medium rise terraced housing.

Isledon Road in Finsbury Park  – Also in the 1980s, the Finsbury Park Action Group, assisted by CLAWS and PAL, successfully opposed a developer-led initiative for a ‘fashion centre’ in a sea of car parking on redundant land north of the Harvist Estate and east of Isledon Road. Eventually, they produced a Community Plan comprising in the main affordable housing, a Garden  Centre, a re-sited and refurbished park, health centre some shops and some local employment space. The Community Plan was then taken up by Hunt Thompson and initially a Community Development Trust and eventually by a number of Housing Associations.

New Wortly Residents Action Group in Leeds – Some years ago, Leeds City Council was proposing, without much consultation, to demolish a lot of homes, mainly Council housing but a few owner-occupiers were affected, in the New Wortley estate. Together, the residents organised and  took on the local planning process.  Eventually, they  produced a community plan for how they wanted any demolitions to be done, managed to get to the proposed Local Statutory Plan thrown out and agreed a new one with the Council. From nothing, the proposal to demolish inspired huge community organisation and bottom-up control, and they are now looking at taking more control and powers to run their estate. See their story at this website:

People’s Plan for the Royal Docks was produced in 1983/4 as an alternative to what is now London City Airport. Done with support of GLC (so a little question mark over whether it was really a ‘people’s’ plan). There is an article about it in the journal Planning Practice and Research in 1988 (Vol 2 no 4).
Oxford, Cowley Road Matters was a local response to a redisign of a local high street, again lots of compromises along the way but there’s a good video on
Wards Corner Coalition – this is a grassroots organisation working to stop the demolition of the homes, businesses and indoor market above Seven Sisters tube station in London and fighting the attempts of Grainger PLC to force out the local community. They have had lots of successes along the way. See their useful website at:
Portland Works, Sheffield – this industrial building in Sheffield, now housing a range of small arts and crafts based industries, was mooted for conversion into flats, but tenants and local people have mounted a campaign to hold onto this important space for small enterprises. The community-led action group has set up a social enterprise (you can buy a share in it). See their website for more details at:
Yiewsley Community Involvement Group –  an organisation of local retailers who finance a fortnightly news-sheet and have successfully challenged plans for inappropriate development in Yiewsley.  The group regularly holds street surgeries where people can sign up to petitions for or against development plans, including getting six inappropriate local applications turned down in the last two years and against a huge out of town superstore (Tesco) appeal (which was later granted illegally).  The group has asked local opinion on the planned town enhancement and put forward their views.   At present they are fighting the closure of our local pool.

Portland Oregon Green Street/MainStreet plan – from outside the UK this excellent example of using very localised planning to regenerate and rezone a local corridor using sustainable methods. This was a joint venture between the planning authority and local groups, but was community-led. See their website at

Urban “regeneration” schemes, often demolishing council estates and decimating the remaining stock of social housing, have become a key issue  in London politics in the new century. Someone should try to come up with some good examples of how it should be done (comment added May 2018). When asked, people in Just Space often refer to the Walterton and Elgin Co-op

Joe Penny adds this link to a Paris scheme for refurbishing a tower block without displacement. It looks good but the participatory aspects are not mentioned in the article. Does anyone know more?  October 2018

Added June 2019: thoughtful retrospect on the Packington Street estate regeneration in Islington, widely regarded as a model scheme – by Peter Apps of Inside Housing

Resources, Tools and Links

Community Development Trusts :

Community Planning website:

This Land is Ours have a planning section called ‘Chapter 7’ which has a useful planning handbook and runs all sorts of campaign for a fairer planning system. See their website here:

Crowd-sourced bibliography on neighbourhood planning, mainly UK, and with a lot on public participation



Author: Editors


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