East Neuk Community Action Plan
The East Neuk Community Action Plan (ENCAP) is an aspirational initiative to develop a jointly held long term vision and strategy for the East Neuk area of Fife. This collaboration sees East Neuk Estates Group, Fife Council, East Neuk Community Councils Forum, local community organisations, Fife Voluntary Action, Fife Rural Partnership and local businesses working in partnership to keep East Neuk vibrant, successful and resilient.
ENCAP is designed around a community led planning approach where communities in East Neuk are supported by the partnership to prepare their own five-year community action plans. The approach allows communities to organise and identify their own social, economic and environmental aspirations. The way land is being used in communities forms a key theme in the plans. The plans provide clarity to jointly held projects and developments, by identifying who would is responsible for their delivery. The public and private land-owning partners in these communities commit to taking the needs, priorities and actions identified in the action plans into account within their own land-use plans and strategies.
ENCAP came into being in 2014, with the formation of a multi-sector steering group. Inception funding was secured through LEADER and matched by Fife Council and private contributions. This allowed the steering group to commission community action planning specialists, STAR Development Group to co-design a training programme and toolkit which would assist communities to develop their own five-year Community Action Plans. A four month consultation saw 67 community groups and support organisations involved. The findings are written up in a toolkit which is made available to communities from the Steering Group as they begin their community action planning process.
To date two local community action plans have been created using the tool kit and support from the ENCAP Steering Group. One for Colinsburgh and Kilconquhar (2016-2021) and one for St Monans and Abercrombie (2018-2023) and work is continuing with neighbouring villages and towns.
Achievements and Benefits
One of the main achievements of the initiative to date is the commitment of all sectors to a joint long-term vision, strategy and area-based approach. This is a genuine community-led initiative with the wider partnership responding to the community action plans as they are developed.
The joint-partnership approach by both the private and public sector has also been key to driving this initiative. The East Neuk Estates Group is six estates working in collaboration for the sustainable management of the land in the East Neuk of Fife. The group have an open and transparent way of working, and are actively involved in the ENCAP as part of the communities they belong to and operate in. The Estates Group is committed to playing their part in responding to the priorities and actions identified by the communities in their local action plans and to integrating these into their own estate and land-use plans.
This shared commitment saw the Group coming together to form the East Neuk Community Awards Fund (ENCAF.) This community benefit fund is designed to strategically manage the investment of local private philanthropy and giving. This fund has been used to support the creation of both the Colinsburgh and Kilconquhar and St Monans and Abercrombie Community Action Plans as well as other community projects in the area.
The programme had an ambitious approach to be delivered in phases however, this proved to be lengthy and resource intensive.
Trust has been one of the most fundamental aspects of this multi-sector approach to community-led planning and this takes time to develop. It is acknowledged that early community engagement in the design of this type of initiative is essential.
The external community engagement and brokering expertise provided by STAR has been essential in building this trust and co-operation due to their independence and experience. It has enabled the partnership to develop a genuine community-led initiative supported by an effective and tested toolkit and resources.
The issue of timing and pace relates to another learning point. Due to the small number of Local Plans created to date, it has been difficult for the ENCAP Steering group to fulfil its original ‘brokering’ role in ‘promoting the plans and promoting the ‘context’ that was needed to make sure that the priorities within the community action plans were fed
into the Fife Local Development Plan (FIFEplan). The community action plans developed will be able to feed into the early engagement for the next Fife Local Development Plan and Community Plan.
There is currently great scope for this initiative to reach its full potential within today’s land use, planning and community empowerment agendas. It provides an effective framework and commitment in the East Neuk to a genuine bottom-up approach to community-led planning supported by a committed, area-based, multi-sector partnership. In terms of land-use, it offers a transparent and open route for communities to be engaged in strategic, long-term decision-making.
Find Out More
Edward Baxter (ENCAP Chair)
Gilston Estate Office