Data and Design for Property Planning

'Data and Design for Property Planning' was a collaborative project between Edinburgh Living Lab (ELL) at the University of Edinburgh and the Service Design and Our Assets programme at the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) during 2019. The Edinburgh Living Lab project team used an innovative data-and-design methodology applied to a specific Edinburgh neighbourhood to help the Council's novel flagship ' Service Design and Our Assets' programme make better decisions about significant changes to the Council Estate at the neighbourhood scale and inform longer-term place-based planning. Jenny Elliott (CMLI) was appointed as Community Engagement and Design Partner on a consultant basis by Edinburgh Living Lab to lead, design and deliver inclusive community engagement activities targeting diverse local neighbourhood stakeholders using a mix of co-design, neighbourhood planning and communication strategies as part of this new process and research, within the interdisciplinary project team.

The community engagement led by Jenny Elliott in collaboration with the wider team, actively engaged 941 stakeholders over 4 months, using a complementary combination of 11 different forms of engagement activities, including school workshops, postcard surveys, participatory exhibitions, in-depth key stakeholder interviews, photo competitions, online surveys and street interviews. It formed part of an integrated innovative project approach that simultaneously interweaved design and engagement activities (based on local resident and service users' experiences, values and future aspirations) with learnings from data analysis of buildings, public spaces and neighbourhood usage patterns, to provide a robust data and community-driven evidence base to support complex neighbourhood level decision-making. This novel methodology championed by Edinburgh Living Lab combined data science, urban design and place planning, community engagement, service design and futures approaches to result in replicable guidelines and template engagement resources (both digital and physical - including reuseable bespoke hand-built physical exhibition display including Place Standard-inspired comment cards and adaptable display boards) for streamlined re-use of this data-and-design process in other areas of the city, as well as provision to City of Edinburgh Council of defined options and considerations for the future of public buildings and spaces in this specific neighbourhood via a summary report.

It was vital that the community engagement work was inclusive and accessible - reaching beyond the ' usual suspects' to ensure the most diverse voices, including those not typically heard, were elevated during the project. Creative and tailored individualised approaches were used to target ' hard to reach' groups. For example, in-person interviews and postcard writing with older residents as part of a collaboration with a local older persons' day-care centre, and working with local schools to engage young adults via a photo-taking outdoor workshop and competition, touring public exhibition, and mapping exercises. Throughout, an attitude of going to the community, rather than expecting them to come to you was adopted, and a respect that different people may want to input in different ways and for shorter/longer amounts of time, or in more formal or informal settings.


  • Project Name

    Data and Design for Property Planning

  • Location

    Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • Category

    Public realm

  • Landscape Architect

    Jenny Elliott (CMLI)

  • Awards

    LI Awards 2020 Finalist - Excellence in Community Engagement


  • Project Team

    Client: City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) in collaboration with Edinburgh Living Lab at the University of Edinburgh. Project team: Jenny Elliott (CMLI) - Community Engagement and Design Partner. Edinburgh Living Lab at the University of Edinburgh - including Cat Magill (Programme and Project Lead), Ewan Klein (Data Coordinator) and Andrey Elizondo (Community Researcher). AndThen - Service Design and Futures workshops. Sally Kerr - former Digital Innovation Manager (CEC) With support and collaboration from City of Edinburgh Council's Property team and SE Locality Services staff.

  • Year Completed


  • Contract Value

    £15,000 for this element of Community Engagement

  • Jenny Elliott (CMLI)

  • Approximate Map Location


    Edinburgh, Scotland.

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