This unique approach to community empowerment has been developed and refined in rural areas since the late 1970s, largely as a response to the gradual withdrawal of public sector services and the increasing need for communities to look after their own affairs.
Over the years, Community Led Plans have taken on different names including Village Appraisals, Parish Plans, Market Town Action Plans and more recently, Neighbourhood Plans. These have developed their own particular characteristics, tending to be used in different geographical contexts.
One of the defining characteristics of all Community Led Plans is they are not imposed from above, but instead initiated and led by local volunteers who steer their community through a step-by-step process that can be summarised as ‘LEAD’.
LEAD refers to a logical sequence of activities that should be undertaken by community groups to produce Community Led Plans that achieve high rates of participation, are linked in with local service providers and result in well-researched actions that can be implemented to meet local needs.
A national toolkit produced by ACRE, is used by RCAN practitioners to guide community groups through the LEAD process. Nine steps are outlined, each providing practical advice and resources that help to make the production of any plan a manageable endeavour.
ACRE believes that Community Led Planning (CLP) can build the ‘Big Society’. With so many people coming together and volunteering their time and energy to help shape the future of their community, this approach to community empowerment is generating a stronger, more sustainable society that is less reliant on the state to get things done.
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