Place-based planning for the future

By Henry Kippin | 30 August 2017

Times were that a ‘plan for place’ meant having a good recipe for jazzing up a flatfish. But no longer. Place-based working is making a comeback. Devolution, sustainability and transformation plans (STP), Industrial Strategy and recent work on the future of civil society all use place as a way of re-think the planning and delivery of public and social services. This is to be welcomed.

Place-based working signifies a shift away from service improvement to whole system change, and forces us to think about the wider determinants of health, wealth and what the economist Amartya Sen called the ‘things we have reason to value’. It puts the quality and depth of cross-agency collaboration to the fore. But there is a danger, as always, that the language becomes faddish – bold window dressing for underwhelming partnerships. Or – as in the case of STPs – the best intention without enough work on the right preconditions to do it.

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