Photo: attending a meeting about community projects

Community Led Planning

Community Led Planning is a tried and tested approach that helps local people to explore the needs for their area, set priorities and plan actions. ACT provides independent facilitation, guidance and support to help communities work through the process and realise their aspirations. You can see completed plans on the Community Led Plans page.

Community Led Planning has a number of important characteristics:

  • It is led, driven and resourced through grass roots action.
  • The people working on Community Plans are volunteers, usually a mix of parish councillors and other local people.
  • It involves extensive community participation and engagement using techniques such as questionnaires, meetings, discussions and events.
  • It results in a credible action plan based on in-depth consultation.
  • The action plan produced sets out how local problems and issues can be tackled. This will include actions which the community can undertake alone, and actions which they need to address in partnership with local authorities or other agencies.

What we provide:

  • Advice throughout the process by phone, email and in person (funding permitting).
  • Guidance sheets, case studies, questionnaire guidance, workshops.
  • Grant funding towards the cost of producing your plan.
  • Contact details for relevant Local Authority officers, councillors and other key agencies.
  • Consultation and Action Planning guidance.
  • Feedback on your consultation plans, draft questionnaire, and draft action plan.
  • Your finished Plan on the ACT website.
  • Signposting to information and funding for delivering actions in your plan.

What we need from you:

  • A named contact for your CLP and to be kept informed of your progress.
  • A plan and budget for the production of your CLP.
  • Contact relevant Local Authority officers, councillors and other key agencies at the start of the process.
  • Use at least three different ways of consulting people in your community.
  • Share your draft action plan with ACT and specific contacts at the district and county council, and any other relevant organisations.
  • A copy of your finished plan.
  • Feedback from you about delivery of your action plan; successes, challenges etc.

Some of the actions in Community Plans will need to be delivered in partnership with other organisations and we recommend building a relationship with your Local Authorities from the start of the process to make this easier.

Community Led Planning Grants

Community Led Planning groups can apply to ACT for a grant to support community consultation activity and production of the Plan. Contact us at ACT for more information and an application form.

  • Westmorland & Furness - South Lakeland locality: Up to £1,500
  • Westmorland & Furness - Eden locality: Up to £500
  • All other areas: Up to £500

Neighbourhood Planning

Community Led Planning can cover anything which the community thinks is important. However in areas where local people have a specific interest in spatial planning, for example, where buildings should go and what they look like, or where open spaces should be protected, they could consider Neighbourhood Planning. Both processes involve widespread community consultation and a Community Led Plan can form a good foundation for Neighbourhood Planning. The key differences are identified in our Neighbourhood Panning guidance (see 'Relevant Resources' below)

Neighbourhood Planning Grant - Eden Locality

A small grant of £150 is available to communities considering Neighbourhood Planning in the Eden locality. The purpose of the grant is to support community groups, engaging with their wider communities, to decide whether there is a need for Neighbourhood Planning in their area, and identify any initial local planning and development issues that they would like to address. This initial consultation and project planning will be a good base from which the group can apply for additional national grant funding to fund the further work and professional advice likely to be required to complete plans. Contact ACT for more information.

Community Emergency Planning

Some communities are choosing to look at how they would manage in an emergency, by preparing a Community Emergency Plan. Although extreme weather conditions, such as flooding and heavy snow, are the most common emergencies which we face, there are a range of other emergencies that could occur within a community such as gas leaks, fires, and major traffic incidents. A plan helps people prepare for an emergency, organise neighbourly help during the incident, make appropriate links to emergency services and local authorities, and assists with recovery after the event. Visit our Community Emergency Planning page for more information.

Valley plans

ACT has worked with the Lake District National Park Partnership to pilot an approach to Valley plans. These are plans that focus on a whole valley, water catchment area. The partners in the plan are the communities and the major agencies that affect the environment and services delivered there. Much like Community Led Planning, the community takes a lead in identifying its own priorities, while also being informed of the priorities of the partner agencies. ACT piloted this approach in Borrowdale, Wasdale and Ullswater, working closely with the Lake District National Park who have developed this approach in Ullswater and have plans to work with other communities across the Park in the future. See these Guidance sheets on Community Climate Change:

Community Climate Change Adaptation 2013
Adapting to climate change in Ullswater 2013
Adapting to climate change in Ullswater (Print) 2013
Adapting to climate change in Ullswater (Web) 2013

What people say about ACT

  • Interaction. Information sharing

    Michael McVeigh

    Copeland Borough Council

  • they give communities a voice, and opportunities to discuss issues that are affecting their lives

    Paula Allen

    Lake District National Park Authority

  • You understand and welcome active partnership working to ensure the council is able to ethically and genuinely engage with our communities on projects, initiatives and community planning.

    Julie Betteridge

    Copeland Borough Council

  • Community Planning Advice/Community Led Housing support

    Roe Baker


  • ACT gives free information and resources

    Keith Rhodes

    Gosforth Public Hall

  • The wealth of knowledge and understanding of communities

    Emma Bundock

    Allerdale Borough Council

  • The support that is given to local communities and good advice

    Peter Lawes

    Setmurthy Parish Hall

  • Engaging with communities.

    Lyz Turner-Dow

    Animal Concern Cumbria

  • Wealth of experience in community development and working with people to give them a voice and influence change for the better.

    Kellie Bradburn-Sims

    Cumbria County Council

  • Community advice

    Tyson Norman

    Gosforth Parish Council

Relevant Resources

Guidance Sheets

Toolkits & Workbooks

  • Guide To Funders 2023-2024

    Funders guide for village halls and other community groups. Lists many funders supporting community projects in Cumbria.

  • Toolkit for Community Action on Water Quality (Please use link in text below!)

    This web-based Toolkit brings together information, signposting and suggestions, building on grassroots work to improve water quality in Windermere. Much of it has wider application, but it is focused on the Windermere and Leven Catchment area. It's for you if you are interested in taking local action to improve water quality, from getting involved in taking water samples for testing, to setting up a local volunteer monitoring group, to letter writing and campaigning, on your own or with others. The Toolkit has been funded in part by the Environment Agency, who wanted to share resources from the Rethinking Water Citizens Panel, and partly by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, who support activities that strengthen community voice.

  • Questionnaire Design Guide

    Being able to put together a survey which is easy to understand, and will give you the information you need, is a useful skill for any community group, particularly those doing Community Led Plans. This guide provides an introduction to writing questionnaires, the types of questions to avoid, how to ensure your survey is accessible to all, and how to analyse the results.

  • Sustainable Communities Workbook

    A discussion tool to help assess your community's sustainability and plan for the future.

Case Studies


Dentdale Parish Plan Nov 2011

Parish council led Plan.