Why do we need a Place Standard?


The purpose of the Place Standard is to maximize the potential of the physical and social environment to support health, wellbeing and a high quality of life. In order to achieve this, it provides a framework for:

  • evaluation and improvement of new and existing places;
  • structured conversations through which communities, the public sector, private sector and third sector work together to deliver high quality places;
  • consistency across Scotland in the delivery of high quality, sustainable places that promote community wellbeing, and more positive environmental impacts;
  • maximization of the contribution of place to reducing health inequalities; and
  • consideration of social aspects of place alongside physical infrastructure.

Place and health

The quality and design of places has been shown to significantly influence the ability of individuals and communities to live in healthy, sustainable ways. Issues such as wellbeing and quality of life, physical and mental health, and social and cultural life are all influenced by the quality of the environment. Evidence behind this is held within:

  • Good Places Better Health (the Scottish Government, launched 2008)
  • The Report on the Future Delivery of Public Services by the Commission chaired by Dr. Campbell Christie, ‘The Christie Commission’, Published on 29 June 2011.

The Place Standard looks across many interrelated issues that require to be addressed collectively in order to make a difference. Therefore its use should lead to a coordinated approach with integrated actions. It can support several of the Scottish Government’s National Outcomes such as:

  • We live in well-designed, sustainable places where we are able to access the amenities and services we need.
  • We have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others.
  • We value and enjoy our built and natural environment and protect it and enhance it for future generations.
  • Our public services are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people’s needs; and
  • We have tackled the significant inequalities in Scottish society.
  • We live longer, healthier lives.

With its focus on participation, empowerment, inclusion and health, the Place Standard fits well with the principle of a human rights based approach. Policy

Scottish Planning Policy states that Planning’s purpose is to create better places. Through collaborative processes, including design, development, renewal and regeneration, the Planning System should make sustainable, well-designed places and homes which meet people’s needs.

The Place Standard supports an approach which is designed to harness the distinct characteristics of places, whether these are in our city regions, towns, rural areas, coast or islands. The process of using the tool should feel unique to its location each time that it is applied. The tool also enables users to demonstrate that projects and proposals align with policy aspirations. This process should help to prevent the creation of new places that would impact negatively on health outcomes within communities in the future.

Creating Places is the Scottish Government’s policy statement on architecture and place, published in 2013. It contains a commitment to develop this place standard assessment tool, which will be the hallmark of well-designed places.