Date: 15/05/2015   Time: 10.00 – 16.00 Location:  Dalhousie Lecture Theatre  (LT1- Ground Floor), University of Dundee

The symposium was used as a platform to develop wider public understanding of the contribution that community collaborative approaches to place making can make to well-being.


Enhancing Wellbeing Report‌ which provides a summary of the presentations and subsequent discussions from Planning Aid Scotland.


Playlist of videos of the morning session and the afternoon conclusion


Attitudes to well-being are beginning to change, both within government and society, with a shift away from the idea that a flourishing life is primarily connected to material prosperity towards one that positions well-being as a significant goal for public policy. This shift is being accompanied by a commitment to empower local communities, unlocking social capital and giving individuals greater voice in the processes of place making that determine the quality and direction of their lives. Together, these changes provide opportunities to secure healthier life styles, safeguard ecological-integrity, promote greater equity and support more resilient places in the low carbon future.

UK and Scottish Governments have supported initiatives that champion new approaches to maximize the potential of the physical and social environment in supporting health, wellbeing and a high quality of life. Achieving this involves the public, professionals and other stakeholders working together to shape future plans for their area. Inclusive, collaborative and community approaches are used: to help stimulate discussion of place-based issues; to promote thinking about community values; and to allow consideration of the ways in which assets can be best utilised. The focus is on delivering long-term outcomes and on aligning the processes for place making and implementing well-being initiatives.

There is an emergent acknowledgement that the need for well-being oriented outcomes should be outlined, promoted and accepted. This needs to be accompanied by examination of the underlying process if the use of community collaborative approaches are going to lead to quality of place outcomes and well being. This symposium will explore how to fill the gap between the theory and practice of well-being and place-making. It will consider how to embed and deliver sustainable outcomes within collaborative community-based approaches and address ‘hang-over’ effects whereby members of the community are left confused as to how their participation ‘follows through’ into the plan making process. It will also question whether professional practice needs be transformed to deliver more effective well-being oriented outcomes.

In and the Geddes Institute for Urban Research, we focus on robust evaluation of current professional practice in spatial design and planning, and on the critical assessment of new ideas and methods. Through these activities, we can provide a practice, research and learning framework for promoting healthier places. The Geddes Institute, which lies at the heart of the University’s vision of Transformation - striving for excellence and impact, has explored the practice of place-making through a series of symposia . A framework of principles covering engagement, design, planning and development has emerged.

This symposium will be used as a platform to explore the relationship between communities, well-being and place making and the use of place-based empowerment to deliver well-being and quality of place outcomes. It will seek examples of what does and does not work in practice.

The symposium will be structured around the themes of place making for well-being, community collaborative-based approaches, and implementation roles and responsibilities. Small groups will discuss: What is happening? What needs improving? What do we want to happen? Amongst the issues that lie behind these questions are:

1. Can community collaborative-based approaches help promote community well-being outcomes?
If so, what processes are most suitable for achieving well-being oriented outcomes? And to what extent should process be seen as an end itself?
And, if not, is well-being more correctly tackled directly in other ways, through more appropriate, more powerful, political processes?
2. What evidence is there of an emerging consensus, expressed through changes in professional practice, that community well-being outcomes requires more than just adding a few extra criteria to an already extensive list of project requirements?
3. What new knowledge and skills are needed within the core professions to champion place making for well-being, and within the collaborative community based approaches?
This day event, which is being run collaboratively with community and development sector partners, will be structured around presentations, small group and plenary discussion. The event will bring together expertise from across the UK and abroad.

The programme is multi-disciplinary in its approach and organisation. Participating disciplines will include: architecture, urban design, planning, geography, engineering, economics, environmental science, health, and property development. Participants also have different backgrounds in terms of how they understand the knowledge which will generate new and significant insights. This will allow cross-fertilisation about appropriate approaches for achieving the most effective impacts, socially, economically and culturally. The resulting research-led practice will provide policy makers, planning authorities, developers, local communities and other professionally qualified members with critical insights into: the challenges that inclusive engagement processes pose; how such processes can be used to promote local empowerment and social capital that enables communities to create conditions for improved public life; and how to change policy and professional practice as appropriate.

Contact for more details