PLAN20030 Local Planning Studio

Academic Year 2021/2022

Spatial plans perform a key role in managing physical and environmental change and the preparation of spatial plans is a core activity of professional planners at a range of spatial scales. This module aims to provide students with the key principles, practices and skills involved in the preparation of a local plan at the neighbourhood, village or small town scale through a practical planning exercise. This will involve a studio and seminar based module designed to develop planning practice, graphic communication and team-working skills.The module will explore the key stages in the preparation of a local development plan, from analysis through to developing land-use and development proposals. Firstly, this will involve a scoping exercise of the local context through a series of desk studies of the policy context and key literature. Secondly, the study will include the physical analysis of a locality, applying principles of urban analysis of the physical urban form, townscape analysis and land-use and urban character surveys. This physical analysis will also be related to the socio-economic context of the locality. Thirdly, the students will prepare a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of the study area and a vision for future development. Then, the students will generate proposals for the future development of the study area, through developing a series of strategic objectives for the area. And finally, students will develop site specific proposals and priorities for the future development of the study area.The studio project comprises both individual and team-based components, and there will be an emphasis on developing effective group-working skills. Students will have the opportunity to develop graphic analysis and presentation skills through practical exercises throughout the module. There will be regular group presentations and seminars throughout the study. The module also entails a fieldtrip, which will normally take place on a Saturday or during half term (depending on timetable and in 2021 public health guidance permitting ). In addition to tutor-led seminars, presentations and studio-based teaching, you are additionally required to work, both individually and in groups, both online and face to face outside of the tutor-led sessions, reflecting the student workload of a 10 credit module.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:
1. Describe and evaluate the policy context for local planning;
2. Demonstrate an understanding the inter-related aspects of the planning
3. Develop key skills of planning analysis, goal formulation and site development;
4. Gain an appreciation of the importance of critical reflection for professionalism as a result of tutor and peer feedback at different stages of the work programme;
5. Enhance their teamwork capacity and their oral, written, diagram and presentational skills.

Indicative Module Content:

A summary description of the project stages is outlined below. Please note that a detailed project brief will be provided to students at the beginning of each new project stage outlining in detail the specific objectives of each stage, assessment, studio support and key deliverables.

1. Project Inception

During the first two weeks, students will be introduced to the project brief and the study area. They will be introduced to some of the issues relating to townscape analysis, historic analysis and demographic analysis and will be assigned to groups and will begin initial background analysis.

2. Gathering the Evidence

Students will be divided into small groups to undertake a desk study of the planning and policy context for the study area. This will primarily involve a review of policy documents, that provide the wider strategic context for our study, and secondary data, which will provide an evidence-base to inform both our analysis and future development options. Four themes will be examined:

a) Policy context
• National and Regional Policies: including the National Development Plan, National Planning Framework, and Regional Spatial and Economic strategies;
• County/City -level policies: County/City Development Plan and other county or city level strategies or plans.

b) Socio-economic context
• Trends relating to economy, society, demographics, housing etc.

c) Local urban context
• Historical context
• Growth of the town/neighbourhood/village, physical evolution
• Landscape context
• Access and Movement

d) Hinterland/Regional Assets
• Audit of local, sub-regional and regional assets (environmental, economic, community)

Outputs: Each group must give a presentation and submit a report outlining their key findings

3. Physical and Spatial Analysis – town/neighbourhood/village survey

This stage involves a fieldtrip to the study area to undertake a survey of the urban structure and physical planning context. This involves two core tasks: (1) a survey of the urban structure and urban design; and (2) survey of thematic areas. The seminars on townscape analysis and town surveys provided at the outset of the module will provide students with the skills necessary for the survey.

a) Urban Structure and Urban Design

Students will be divided groups and allocated a section of the area to survey and analyse. This will include a survey and analysis of:
• Urban structure
• Townscape
• Land-use
• Urban character
• The public realm
• Architectural elements and features

b) Thematic areas

Each of the groups will be allocated one of the following topics to investigate for the overall area:
• Traffic and transport
• Retail and commercial
• Residential environments
• The safe Area
• Landscape context and open space
• Tourism

4. Physical and Spatial Analysis – Area Analysis

Based on the survey undertaken in stage 3 above, students will complete the analysis of the information collected and prepare material for a visual presentation of their findings.


1. Urban Structure and Urban Design: each group must prepare and submit a visual/graphical presentation of their analysis and complete an oral presentation of their material.

2. Thematic analysis: each group must prepare and submit a visual/graphical presentation of their analysis and orally present their findings.

Studio tutors will provide teaching support to develop presentation skills during this stage.

5. Visioning

A SWOT analysis provides a summary of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats facing the study area. The SWOT analysis is based on the analysis undertaken in previous stages of the project, and provides a basis for ‘brainstorming’ issues and synthesising findings to date.

The students will be divided into groups and each group will be asked to give a presentation in class on their analysis and to submit a brief report.

Outputs: class discussion and visual/graphic presentation.

Following the SWOT analysis, the entire class will work towards developing a vision statement and a set of future development goals for the study town.

6. ‘Realising’ – Future Development Options

At this stage, the class group is required to arrive at specific objectives for the future development of the town. These objectives are to be reached through a plenary session and group discussion. The specific objectives will be informed by the analysis undertaken in the above stages.

Each student will identify a potential development site, the development of which would facilitate the implementation of a specific objective.

Each student will be required to give outline details of their site selected, and the potential scope of development of the sites. Students will be required to demonstrate how the development proposals are integrated with the overall objectives for the area, and how they address the key issues raised in the survey and analysis stage of the study. The site details are required to demonstrate how the development of the site would achieve the implementation of the specific objectives.

7. Final presentation of development options

In this final stage, students are expected to provide a summary of their study and to visually and orally present their final development options.

Output: visual/graphic presentation of series of development options

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)




Field Trip/External Visits


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
As befits a studio based module this module blends a number of different teaching and learning approaches, including:
- Studio seminars, presentations and studio-based teaching.
- Workshops to develop graphic skills.
- Problem based learning
- Online learning
- Field trip to study town/neighbourhood (if travel is permitted), to undertake land use and other surveys, including observational analysis.
- Student presentations.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
PEP10020 - Intro to Spatial Planning, PLAN10010 - Intro to Spatial Planning

PEP30120 - Topics in Urban & Reg Planning

Local Planning (PEP20090)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Essays, presentations, poster making and project work. Unspecified n/a Graded No


Project: Students produce a vision, objectives and development options for the study area. Week 12 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Written feedback on essay on policy context post assessment. Feedback during studio on presentation of posters. Feedback on town analysis posters post assessment.

Name Role
Dr Aura Istrate Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Studio Offering 1 Week(s) - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 Thurs 14:00 - 17:50
Studio Offering 1 Week(s) - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 Tues 14:00 - 16:50