Philip Kassanis as director at Open Urbanism
OurPlanning™ is open source planning that facilitates communities to unite in common purpose to co-author a plan for their area. It is based on a cross-sectorial approach achieved by working with partners from the built environment, “third”, and academic sectors.
The initiative has been developed over a period of several years by Philip Kassanis, firstly through the company Philip Kassanis Architect and Urban Designer, and from October 2012 by a specially founded non-for-profit company, Open Urbanism. The development has been assisted by two government grants enabling the input of external specialist advice: the Leadership and Management Service (LMAS) grant; and an Innovation Voucher from the Technology Strategy Board.
It is a bottom up approach to planning, providing a practical outworking of the government’s concepts of Big Society and Localism. It shares much of the same rationale as the Neighbourhood Planning Movement, which emerged soon after this initiative was conceived. However although there are resemblances, OurPlanning™ contains significant differences making it more potent for anything other than simple schemes.
It is open source planning overseen by OurPlanning™ which…
- Partners with local area groups enabling them to fund, commission, participate in and manage the process.
- Integrates best good practice from the diverse sectors of built environment, third sector, and academia but is pioneering at the same time.
- Structures the pioneering as action research making more funding available to an area than would otherwise be possible and allowing other areas to benefit from the learning.
- Enhances the plan-making by drawing in the outputs of a university research programme aiming to produce next generation of good practice in masterplanning.
In its role as specialist partner OurPlanning™ will be responsible for…
- Nurturing the local process until it is self-sustaining.
- Mapping and facilitating the local assets and competencies which the local partner can bring.
- Stakeholder engagement.
- Developing the most suitable model and facilitating its setting up.
- Managing the action research.
- Area planning, which has its roots in masterplanning.
- Funding brokerage to pay for these services.
Main differences with Neighbourhood Planning
Funding available through the government’s designated channels is averaging at roughly £6,000 for grant, and the equivalent of £9,500 for direct support. These levels of support and funding are adequate for “simple plans” but for a locale with multiple overlapping “dimensions” it will only partially address the needs. OurPlanning™ aims to be able to tackle the more complex scenarios and broker the funding necessary to achieve this.
Appropriate business model
Many consultancies who have the experience to be able to assist neighbourhood groups struggle with the low cost business model it necessarily entails. This venture is designed specifically to operate within this milieu.
Consistent and appropriate expertise
Neighbourhood groups are generally subject to the vagaries of local availability of relevant expertise. Moreover the expertise will usually be restricted to the particular skillset of the individual involved. OurPlanning™, at its core, straddles disciplines and its whole focus is dedicated to developing and disseminating best practice in this field. The local area therefore has access to one of the foremost sources of specific knowledge in available in the country.