(Forgot?) or Register

Special - Spatial Planning and Energy for Communities in All Landscapes Town and Country Planning Association European Union

Knowledge Pool

Planning for Real


Model building, responsibility


Planning for Real is a community-oriented planning procedure designed to activate people (the idea is “It’s our place – let’s take matters into our own hands”).
Planning for Real events are famous for involving eye-catching three-dimensional models - though these are only a part of the whole process.

The aim is to lessen difficulties in communicating between individuals affected in different ways, to bring out latent potential, resources and deficits, and to create an atmosphere of cooperative action among neighbours, experts and local interest groups. The method can involve constructing a three-dimensional model together, anonymous contributions via questionnaires or non-verbal communication, for instance. While local stakeholders provide the initiative for launching the process, support from external specialists has proved its worth in practice.



  • for encouraging ordinary citizens to get involved in structuring their surroundings or their workplace, and for minimizing obstacles to communication and for tapping existing local resources
  • for spotlighting areas of conflict and for deciding which steps need to be taken most urgently
  • for starting implementation in working groups
Expiry of the method

The process consists of a number of steps, each with differing opportunities for communication and participation.

  1. Initiative: a group of at least three persons make their wish to alter a location public and invite others to take part.
  2. Model: together the participants construct a three-dimensional model of the place / building to be (re)structured, as a tool.
  3. Presentation: the model is presented in public, and comments and further information etc. are gathered.
  4. Who can do what?: by means of “neighbourly help” questionnaires people are asked to consider what skills, abilities and interests they can contribute to the project, and to express their own needs as regards (re)structuring.
  5. Pooling suggestions: the participants write suggestions on coloured cards (each colour stands for a topic such as sport, commerce, green spaces …) and attach them to the model wherever they feel alterations are called for. This enables everyone taking part to make suggestions anonymously, and avoids person-to-person conflicts. The picture resulting from this input is extended in discussion. For certain topics external experts are called in.
  6. Setting up working groups: ideas for action are derived from the results of pooling suggestions, and working groups formed accordingly. The participants choose which group to join in line with their own interests (geographical and / or topical).
  7. Priorities and scheduling: priorities are jointly assigned to the various ideas for action, resulting in a time schedule. This makes it possible to divide a “sea of activities” into manageable units.
  8. Plan of campaign: the various ideas for action are incorporated in a plan of campaign in which the individual steps / actions are detailed: Where does what need to be done? When and how can it be implemented? Who will contribute what?
Duration of the event

Several weeks

  • Local residents are the focus of a Planning for Real process.
  • There is no upper limit to the number of participants that can be involved, as they do not have to attend at the same time or place.
  • Other stakeholders who have an interest in the future of the area can also be involved.
Prerequisite for success
  • Well mixed, equal operating group of people who are interested in improving their neighborhood.
  • people should see some positive results already in the initial phase – those results should be achieved with the help of the citizens.
  • for reasons of identification the model area should not be to large.
Required materials
  • Simple and lightweight material for an easy transportation (e.g. paper, cardboard, styrofaom …)
  • Glue, tape or the like
  • maps
Principles, relevant parameters to be considered
  • Supplementary aids are needed for the transition from mobilization to active implementation.
  • The method supports local stakeholders’ own initiative; assistance from a team of specialists is advisable. Usually there is a need for skills in group work, facilitation and conflict-resolving strategies.
  • Planning for Real is a trade mark of the Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation and may not be used without their permission.