Community planning


The Royal Town Planning Institute North West has awarded Ketso a "commendation for positive contribution to community engagement".

'Ketso well deserves this commendation. It is a creative approach to improving the effectiveness of community engagement and increasing social inclusion. It good to see practical planning research like this making a real difference.'
Jane Aspinall, RTPI NW Awards Chair

'This section includes:


Ketso started its life as a tool for community development in Southern Africa, and is now being used by community groups, NGOs, parish councils, local, district and county authorities. Ketso is featured as a method on

For more insight into how Ketso can be used to create effective community engagement, please take a look at our Ketso in Community Planning Video and see our sample workshop plans, which have been developed through the experiences below.

There are further examples in our International Development section.

Community Development and Health: Merkinch Network, Developing Priorities in Partnership

Sandra MacAllister, Community Health Co-ordinator, NHS Highland

Working with NHS Highland in partnership with Scottish Waterways Trust, Scottish Canals, Merkinch Partnership and Scottish Health Council, Ketso was used at an event involving professionals working in the local area. Two previous events had identified what areas might be the focus for future work in the area, with a view to developing joint working and action and making best use of local assets.

There were 25 participants, representing 18 different organisations.

Once the top priority areas had been identified, Ketso was used to generate discussion and formulate an action plan. So far, two out of the four action plans have resulted in first meetings to look at progression, with a view to engaging the wider community.

Ketso was something new and different. It gave each of the four priority areas exactly the same structure from which to work. The staged approach (one leaf at a time) meant participants weren’t overwhelmed with too much information at any one time, and progress was steady and measured.

In an evaluation of the event, 75% of the respondents said they enjoyed using Ketso and 60% of the strongly agreed or agreed with the statement that Ketso was ‘easy to use’ with none finding it difficult to use.

Renfrewshire's Community Planning Conference

Renfrewshire’s Annual Community Planning Conference gives residents a voice in the Council’s future activities. The 10th Annual Conference in Sept. 2011 attracted 458 individuals, community groups and charitable organisations. In 2011, for the first time, Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership used Ketso for gathering input into their future action plans.

Renfrewshire Council first experienced Ketso at a GRAMNet event looking at issues faced by Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual refugees and asylum seekers. Kasia Owczarek, Policy Officer in the Chief Executive's Service was struck by the degree of engagement and the way that the kit enabled everyone to have a say. She thought the toolkit could enliven their annual Community Planning Conference, which has been held each year since 2000.

You can download the report from the conference, including a description of how Ketso was used and an analysis of the results, here.

You can download a brief PowerPoint presentation about the use of Ketso in Renfrewshire here. You can see the workshop plan used for the nine themes of the conference here.

There were 1.5 hour interactive discussions using Ketso at several times in the programme over 3 days and 6 events throughout the area. Renfrewshire’s own staff were trained to facilitate the discussions. Ketso was used to gather input on 9 themes, as well as to collate the key messages and priorities from the participants.

Ketso enabled non-professional facilitators to run this ambitious series of workshops, which generated over 2000 ideas for the future plan. Feedback from the event was very positive. Comments included:

  • I was pleasantly surprised when the Ketso workshop format worked very well; I felt confident enough to voice my opinions.
  • I found this year’s workshops to be a much better concept, much more involvement from whole group.

This graph shows responses given to the evaluation question:  

Do you agree that the workshop allowed participants to work together, share ideas and be creative?

"Using Ketso during this year's Renfrewshire Community Planning Conference Events gave everyone a chance to contribute and voice their opinions without anyone dominating the discussion. Community planning is all about engagement and participation and Ketso supported people thinking things through and developing ideas in a short period of time. Ketso made it easier to manage the events in terms of reduced resources used, a quick set up and easy clean up. The majority of participants agreed that this workshop format gave everyone a voice and took the pressure off facilitators."
Kasia Owczarek, Chief Executive's Service, Renfrewshire Council

Renfrewshire Student Outreach EventAt the outset it was seen as important to ensure that all partners, including the third sector and community representatives, were involved in the design and delivery of the events and this has continued throughout the years through the work of the Conference Planning Group and the input from the Community Planning Leadership Group. The Conference Planning Group consists of representatives from Strathclyde Police, Renfrewshire Community Health Partnership, Jobcentre Plus, Disability Resource Centre, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, Reid Kerr College, Engage Renfrewshire, with strong involvement from policy officers in Planning and Transport Services, especially during the Students Outreach Events.
The use of Ketso during the conference events was a response to previous feedback and a continuous effort to engage with young people and hard to reach groups. The main objectives of the using Ketso were as follows:

  • Attract new participants.
  • Attract members of difficult to engage with groups (ethnic minorities, school pupils, people with physical disabilities and learning difficulties).
  • A quick and easy way to capture and store results which will then be a basis for a user friendly report.
  • Develop an action plan by the community planning partners which will respond to points raised at the events.
  • Resources saved.

The success of the project was measured by:

  • Number of participants (participants’ database and registration forms).
  • Number of participants from hard to reach groups (according to participants’ database and registration forms, feedback forms returned with equality and diversity information completed, the number reached 23).
  • Completed report.
  • Action plan developed by the community planning partners and progress reports submitted to the Community Plan Leadership Group, which became a driver for the Community Plan review.
  • Reduction in number of facilitators and scribes required to run workshops at the conference events.
  • Requests from other Services and community planning partners to use Ketso kits owned by the Chief Executive’s Service (according to booking form, there were 15 requests in 2012).

In January 2012, Ketso held a workshop entitled 'Learning from Renfrewshire’s Community Planning Conference success’ at the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA). To find out more, and to see the results of the dialogue on the future delivery of public services, click here.  

Kasia presented their work using Ketso and said after the event:

Renfrewshire Managers' Seminars

“Our Community Planning conference events are an excellent example of partners working together to ensure they can achieve better outcomes for the citizens of Renfrewshire. In 2011 we feel we had even more engagement and were able to really hear from everyone at the events. Using Ketso in such an interactive way is example of leading and innovative practice which could easily be replicated elsewhere.”

Further uses of Ketso in Rewnfrewshire Council

Ketso toolkits are seen to have already proved to be a worthwhile investment in Renfrewshire Council, as community planning partners and youth groups have accessed them and used them for a range of events e.g. awards ceremonies, operational service planning exercises and consultation exercises.

Uses of Ketso since the Community Planning Conference include:

  • Renfrewshire’s Integrated Children Services Youth Event in September 2011
  • Reshaping Care for Older People in Renfrewshire Event in January 2012
  • Service Improvement Plans development in January 2012
  • Renfrewshire Students Outreach Events in February 2012
  • Civil Contingencies Service’s debriefs

A larger scale event was Renfrewshire Council's 2012 Managers’ Seminars, attended by 323 senior managers from all council services.

Ketso is now in use in several councils across Scotland, in community planning as well as social care, mental health and refugee integration.


Ketso and local engagement in a Parish Council

We have been at the National Association of Local Council 'Putting Communities First' in 2013, and have been excited to explore how Ketso can be used to increase engagement in neighbourhood planning and local activities.

Since then, Ketso was used on the Community Planning Working Group stand at the Oakington & Westwick village day, and the Parish Councilor commented: "It worked well - producing more comments and inputs than we have managed previously with post-it stickers."

Ketso in architecture and design

Eileen Tumlin, Architect, San Francisco Bay Area, California

I attended a workshop about how to use Ketso in Santa Rosa, California. This was very useful, as it helped me to see not only how I could use the toolkit in my design work, engaging with community members and stakeholders in neighbourhood planning, but also how I could use it in my teaching.

I teach architecture students in several colleges across the Bay Area, so it was great to get experience of using the tool in this hands-on workshop, so I can pass on my knowledge to my students. It was great to explore these ideas with a former County Supervisor in the workshop, as it helped me to see how the tool could be used to solve problems as well as to gather feedback and ideas for design.

Engaged Communities in Local Planning - Royal Town Planning Institute NW's CPD Event

On Feb. 21, 2013, over thirty people from Local Authorities and consultancies working in planning in the North West explored the topic of Engaged Communities as part of a one-day Continuing Professional Development event run by the RTPI's NW branch, called 'Local Plans - Cunning Plans'.

The following analysis is extracted from the Spring 2013 RTPI North West Newsletter, PLANNET.

Participants used Ketso to explore the following questions with regards to engaging communities in local plans:

  • Measures of Success
  • What works well
  • Future possibilities
  • Key challenges  (and solutions to the challenges)

Participants developed 301 ideas in just under an hour. The graph to the right shows the themes used to organise the ideas (written on the ‘branches’ on the Ketso), and the relative distribution of types ideas by theme.
The theme that generated the most discussion overall, as well as the highest number of ideas around ‘What works’ was ‘Communication and Clarity’. This was closely followed by ‘Building Capacity and Learning’, which had the highest number of ‘Challenges’ associated with it. ‘Reaching the Hard to Reach’ generated the highest proportion of ‘Future possibilities’.

The theme ‘Joining-up’ had the lowest number of ideas, but a similar number of ‘Measures of successes associated with it as the other themes.  The relationship between ‘joining-up’ and community engagement could be a fruitful avenue for further exploration, particularly given the interesting challenges posed by the Duty to Cooperate. 

The full set of ideas can be downloaded here (excel spreadsheet).

A summary of key ideas developed by participants, as noted by icons highlighting their significance, is shown below.

Measures of success

Participants were asked to explore what would it look like if communities  were fully engaged in local plans.

  • Positive idea-sharing between communities and authorities
  • Understanding, consensus and agreement
  • Meaningful debate, knowledge, understanding of all aspects
  • Stronger , ‘sound’ plan
  • Shared vision, ownership
  • Enthusiasm for change
  • Fewer objections, residents supporting development
  • Everybody happy, optimism
  • Positive contributions
  • Positive views of planning and Councils
  • Thought-provoking, challenging
  • Empowerment
  • Trusting
  • Good communication and recognised community leaders
  • Inclusive, cooperation, cohesion between groups
  • Peace, equality, harmony

The following ideas were highlighted as important by participants, using the moveable icons of the Ketso kit:

What works well?

  • Interactive events, sessions/games
  • Reducing the loud voices
  • Dialogue with stakeholders with different viewpoints
  • Meeting people in own community
  • Information availability (transparency)
  • Provide information on how they will be affected
  • Clear boundaries of what is possible
  • Trust
  • Being open and honest
  • Be consistent, feedback
  • Evidence, not hearsay
  • Political leadership and direction
  • Keeping it simple
  • Explanation of complex matters
  • Easily accessible info, visual - pictures rather than words
  • Single issue groups
  • Individual meetings, one-one explanation, small group discussions
  • Respected member of community as ambassador
  • Scare-mongering by local press leads to local interest

Future Possibilities

  • Share resources and work together with other departments/organisations
  • Openness and honesty
  • Being honest about what can be done
  • Scenario activities
  • Get schools and pupils involves at early stage - filters onto parents
  • Use of new technology/new communications e.g. Twitter/Facebook
  • Use social media –“ twitface” etc. to engage young people
  • Online games/quizzes to plan their area
  • Use youth groups/schools to engage with young people
  • Theatre group in schools
  • Ensure the local media is well informed and on your side

Key challenges [and solutions to the challenges]

  • Getting people to see plans as a whole - not just their area
  • Connecting local to 'bigger than local'
  • Ensuring that all groups in society involved
  • Engaging all to get involved
  • To reach those who are not members of interest groups
  • Getting busy people involved
  • Vocal minority
  • Choosing right place, right time
  • Overcoming apathy - you can contribute
  • Anti-development stance of most communities [Explain the planning process and why development is needed, this could lead to measure of success - Residents supporting development]
  • People don't like change because they find it hard to envisage; NIMBYism [Communication. Explanation; Honesty and openness]
  • Complexity [Plain English; Education, training]
  • Unrealistic aspirations
  • Competing political aspirations
  • It's a done deal
  • Lack of staff time and resources [Joint working;  Share resources and work together with other departments/organisations; New sources for resources]
  • Time constraints [Outsourcing; Increase resources (financial and staff); Change legislation. More time!]

As can be seen from the range of ideas above, there are many challenges with engaging communities effectively in local planning, but also many advantages. Engaging communities can lead to more cooperation, better plans with fuller knowledge, and more support for change and development. The discussion was lively and developed many creative new ideas.

Fellside Forum

Community Planning: Kendal’s Fellside Forum leads the way?

Chris Lumb & Fellside Forum

Residents and councillors in Kendal’s Fellside and Greenside wards came together in two workshops to discuss and agree their priorities for action in their local community, and a follow on workshop to develop a snow and ice contigency plan for the area.  Fellside_Forum_Article_1

The first workshop was organised by the community group Fellside Forum and facilitated by Dr Joanne Tippett.  Its aim was to identify what residents valued about where they lived, what detracted from it and how it could be improved.  Finally residents agreed the actions that they would take, or would seek to get done in partnership with the Councils.  The Forum and workshop are a good example of how community-led planning can contribute to locality working such as South Lakeland’s new Local Area Partnerships.
Fellside_Forum_Article_1An initial workshop was held in March 2010.   Since then the Forum has been working closely with local councillors and council officers to address issues and concerns identified at that workshop.  This second workshop, held on 25 September, reviewed the achievements to date and focused in on the priority actions.  These included:

The Forum will:

  • Extend its network of Fellside and Greenside volunteers to organise litter clean ups, to promote a buddy system and  to look after neighbours (learning from the successful scheme in Greenside). It will encourage volunteer residents to act as liaison contacts with other residents, the Forum and Councils, on behalf of designated  areas within Fellside and Greenside.
  • Secure funding to create interpretation panels in the area to highlight the history of Fellside and Greenside and draw attention to areas of interest. This would be an extension of the widely acclaimed network of panels in the town centre.

In partnership with the Councils, the Forum will:

  • Continue to help manage Serpentine Woods
  • Take action to address the problems of litter on Fellside and Greenside
  • Organise an evening presentation and workshop with the Conservation Area Officer and the Civic Society. This would aim at a better understanding of the interests of the Conservation Area and would  identify  community-led projects to enhance the Area and look for possibilities for funding for these projects.
  • Develop a plan that ensures that everyone has safe access into Kendal in the event of heavy snow and ice in order to avoid a repeat of the access difficulties caused by dangerous conditions last winter.

The Forum will seek urgent action by the Council to repair the damaged speed bumps, ramps and surface of Queens Road which are damaging vehicles, dangerous to drive over and increase traffic noise.

Chairman of the Fellside Forum Chris Lumb said “Fellside and Greenside residents greatly value the area in which they live.  Through this workshop we have identified key actions that we can take ourselves or working in partnership with the Councils, to retain and enhance the value of the area.  In a time of increasing pressures on public services it is even more important that we do this”. Fellside_Forum

Fellside Forum are showing how residents, councillors and the Councils can work in partnership to deliver more and better outcomes through community-led planning and action”

Feedback from the workshop was very positive, with several participants saying they were amazed at how much they had accomplished in the short period of time. Participants felt that the interactive toolkit helped them to ‘see a bigger picture’, and enabled them to ‘hear other people's views and ideas’.

A second workshop brought together residents to develop a plan for dealing with snow and ice, an area highlighted as a priority in the first workshop.

You can download the results:

Moston Vale and North Manchester

Dr. Joanne Tippett, with Prof. John Handley, Joe Ravetz (University of Manchester) and Walter Menzies (Mersey Basin Campaign), Research funded by the ESRC and Mersey Basin Campaign


Between February and June 2003, Ketso was used to encourage dialogue and decision-making in a programme of workshops with local residents and public/private sector organisations to develop future visions for the Irk Valley, North Manchester. This was part of Joanne Tippett's PhD research, based at the University of Manchester, in partnership with the Mersey Basin Campaign and the Irk Valley Project. The aim was to encourage community and stakeholder participation in planning.

Over 50 stakeholders took part in the programme, ranging from the Forestry Commission and Environment Agency, to employees of local businesses, community groups and individual residents. This work led to the production of a strategic vision for North Manchester, as well as a landscape plan for Moston Vale (a 22 hectare site).

The enthusiasm generated by this community involvement contributed to the decision by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) to fund the site’s £1.7 million environmental regeneration via the £59m Newlands programme.  Moston Vale was the first site to be revitalised through Newlands – a unique intelligence-led environmental programme led by the NWDA and Forestry Commission that has been citied by the UK Sustainable Development Strategy as an ‘innovative and integrated approach to tackling inherited degradation’. In 2004, Newlands Project Officer, Chris Waterfield commented: 'The proposals that have come forward for Moston Vale seem to have a clearer orientation, and are based on a better sense of the existing economic, social and ecological capital, than others being developed without the benefit of this process'.

370 residents were surveyed in follow up research, and all were 'proud of the developments at Moston Vale" (Download Forest Research Report).

Download an article about the project here (courtesy of the Mersey Basin Campaign Archive.

Read about the underlying research here.

Download a 2008 report commissioned by Natural Economy Northwest about the impacts of the Moston Vale project here.

Download the project reports for Moston Vale and Irk Valley.

The full PhD developed from this research can be downloaded, chapter by chapter, from this page.


Working together for the Common Good in Brighton and Hove

Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce and the Business and Enterprise Team at the University of Sussex
hosted a Ketso workshop bringing together twenty-six participants from a range of local companies, universities and the voluntary sector.

Participants discussed ways to work together for the common good in Brighton and Hove. The workshop was designed to allow plenty of time for delegates to learn from each other. A report summarises the ideas developed by participants in the exercise looking at the Brighton and Hove area.

  • Download summary report here
  • Download full set of wokrshop results here


Chester Parish

Ann Barlow (Researcher Development Manager at Manchester University and Licensed Lay Minister at St Oswald’s Church, Lower Peover, Cheshire)

All Anglican churches in the Chester diocese had in 2009 been asked to establish a Growth Action Plan (GAP) for the coming five years. At the time, Lower Peover Church identified the following as its key goals for GAP:

  • opportunities for people to grow in faith
  • a building fit for purpose
  • a church living the gospel

One of the initial actions identified by Lower Peover Church was to hold a parish weekend away, giving space for members of the congregation to think about the goals of the GAP and to identify further actions which could be taken back to the Parochial Church Council for ratification and implementation.

The weekend took place at in October 2010, at Rydal Hall in the Lake District – a Christian conference centre. 16 members of the church signed up for the weekend – a self selected group with a range of roles and connections to the church. While some were church officials, others held no particular responsibility. The group was made up of individuals from a variety of secular backgrounds, ranging from university academics to members of the farming community and included two children.

Ketso was an excellent tool for this activity. The groups taking part were very diverse. They included people with disabilities, people for whom English is a second language and who are not confident in their use and understanding of English, as well as one nine year old child (the other child having chosen not to participate). Everyone was able and willing to make a contribution and there was a great sense of listening as people were given time to present their own thoughts. The groups were facilitated by a non-participant, and the establishment of “rules” at the beginning contributed to a sense of game which engaged our youngest participant very effectively. It was interesting to see, as the maps grew, how gaps in provision became clearly identified through the visual “big picture” so ideas for improvement could become quite focused.

Download the full report here.

You can read about the use of Ketso in Chester Diocese's Growth Action Planning pack for churches. Click to downlaod,  and mention of Ketso is on pg. 26.

Preparing for Growth Action Planning in a local parish

Ketso was trialled in a project called: Consultancy for Mission and Ministry, as a way of finding out the needs of the parish. ‘I need to know what the congregation want but I’m not even sure that I speak the same language.’ was the incumbent’s description of the issue which had led him to taking part in the Church Consultancy pilot project. It was found that using the Ketso kit enabled everyone to have a voice, and young and old were able to participate together in developing priorities.

You can read more here (case study 3).