Community Led Planning

Community Led Planning

Community Led Planning

Community Led Planning (CLP) is a step-by-step process that can empower your community to take action and make your local area a better place. CLP can be used by your community to address a range of different social, economic, environmental and cultural issues. You could produce a plan to achieve anything from organising regular litter picks, buying a defibrillator for a community building, setting up a homework club, through to addressing housing development.

CLP offers a structured process for your community to research and identify the most important local issues and use this evidence to develop a detailed plan of action for bringing about specific improvements.  It helps people to come together, develop a shared understanding and agree on a range of actions that can be delivered for the benefit of everyone locally. CLP is also the perfect way to prepare your community to take advantage of the ‘rights’ introduced in 2012 by the government, including Community Right to Buy and Neighbourhood Planning.

If you choose to develop a Community Led Plan for your area, you will be following in the footsteps of over 4,000 other communities that have produced similar plans since the late 1970s. These plans have assumed different names over this period, including Village Appraisals, Parish Plans and Market Town Healthchecks but their defining principles and benefits have remained the same.

There are three core principles that define CLP and distinguish it from other methods of community engagement.

  1. Plans are owned, managed and led by your community: Your community sets its own agenda to bring about positive change and leads on the management and delivery of a plan, working closely with
  2. Everyone in your community should have an opportunity to get involved and have their say: To ensure that this happens, your community will need to attract interest in the plan’s production, recruit volunteers to get things done, use a mix of consultation methods to speak to everyone locally and come to collective decisions about what actions should be pursued.
  3. Actions are based on evidence and address a range of different issues important to your community

This website contains everything you need to carry out a community-led plan:

Community Experience

Examples of Community Plans can be downloaded here:

Cherwell Community Plans

South Oxfordshire Community Plans

Vale of White Horse Community Plans

West Oxfordshire Community Plans

Oxford Community Plans

In just one year (from Aug 2015 to July 2016) 11 communities completed Plans that set out over 245 community actions covering a wide range of issues, as illustrated in the word-cloud (larger font indicates that the issue comes up more frequently):

Oxfordshire community plan actions 2015-2016

You can see the details in their Plans which can be downloaded from the links above: Charney Bassett, Burcot and Clifton Hampden, Fringford, Horton-cum-Studley, Letcombe Regis, Milton, Stadhampton, Sutton Courtenay, Uffington, Woolstone and Baulking, Watchfield, West Hendred.

Need Help?

Community First Oxfordshire has been supporting community plans for many years. Our experienced team has worked with over 100 communities. Our support ranges from galvanising active citizenship, motivating volunteers and helping communities to get started with a community plan to technical support with community engagement, surveys, plan writing and practical advice to implement community actions.

Contact us if you have any questions or would like our help. For communities in South Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse and Cherwell districts we are able to offer a free service as our support is funded by your District Council. These communities can also access grant support from their District Councils which is administered by Community First Oxfordshire. For other communities we offer support on a consultancy basis that is tailored to meet your needs and keep costs down.

Click here to access South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council support for Community Led Plans.

Community First Oxfordshire can help with all aspects of a community led plan. If you would like to discuss a CLP in your community, please contact Hilary Lombard.

What communities have said:

“I can’t say enough for what CFO did in terms of guiding us through our CLP.” South Stoke CLP group

“CFO gave every possible support with our CLP.” Binfield Heath CLP group

“CFO have been a great catalyst and support resource for our nascent CLP. The team is accessible, helpful and positive.” Fringford CLP group

“CFO staff have assisted volunteers and challenged our thinking and preparation for community events and consultation.” Vale CLP group

“The service has been invaluable and given our parish much confidence and a better sense of support and awareness of what we want to achieve and how to collectively work together to make progress.” South Oxfordshire CLP group

“We have benefited greatly from the experience and expertise in community and project development.” Vale CLP group

Community planning resources

The complete toolkit for Community Led Planning provides a step by step approach. TOOLKIT

We recommend taking elements and resources from this as you need them. The individual resources are all available from the links below:

1. Getting started


2. Establishing your steering group


3. Taking stock and planning the way ahead

  • Taking Stock and planning ahead
  • Project Plan example


4. Understanding your community


5. Prioritising and planning action


6. Drafting your plan


7. Finalising your plan


8. Implementing your plan


9. Monitoring and reviewing your plan


New challenges and changing contexts demand innovative methods of working with communities to help them achieve their goals and- in the process- build skills, capacity and resilience. The full, 9-step CLP process which can take 18 months to 2 years is not for everyone.

We have developed more tailored approaches. One of these is Community Led Planning ‘Lite’. This accelerated planning process puts more emphasis on carrying out a survey or questionnaire and streamlines community involvement. Plan timescales are 4-6 months. Bespoke solutions can be tailored directly to the specific needs of a community, depending on what you want to achieve.

About community planning

Community planning is the work of building relationships and engaging everyone in the village or neighbourhood to create change through community action.

Community planning can be achieved using various tools that are available such as Community Led Plans following the toolkit produced by the Association of Communities in Rural England in 2012 or Neighbourhood Plans which were introduced through the Localism Act 2011 which are part of the formal planning framework. Whichever tool we use, the community planning process involves identifying what people care strongly about in a community, developing the evidence to show that these issues have support, and ideally motivating people to take action to achieve their goals.

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