Planning for Real®

In Planning for Real®, participants develop suggestions regarding an area of land/buildings by making or using a three-dimensional model. Working in groups they then prioritise these ideas to create an action plan for decision makers to take away. Examples of potential subjects might include looking at the layout of the out-patients' area when a new hospital is being designed; or looking at the functioning of an accident and emergency waiting area (perhaps linked to observation of what actually happens there).

Planning for Real® is appropriate when you want decisions to reflect the priorities of local people, and when you have time to commit to the process.

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How to do it


  • Planning for Real® is a Registered Trademark of the Accord Group. Organisations wishing to run Planning for Real® events, provide Planning for Real® training or to describe themselves as users of a Planning for Real® approach should first Link opens in a new windowcontact the Accord Group to discuss using the technique to its full effect and to obtain permission for the use of the trademark.

    Facilitating the Session

  • The stages of the process are as follows:
  • Simple, large three-dimensional models of a building or area are constructed, mainly by the participants themselves.
  • Support should be available in the form of staff and local volunteers who have been involved and are able to answer questions.
  • Participants are given post-it notes or suggestion cards to give their views in the form of words or drawings. Pre-written or designed cards can be used if there are some things that must happen, or if local people have already agreed on certain things at previous consultations. Participants can put their cards onto the model to show their proposals. Depending on the circumstances, they will also be able to move parts of the model around. Each suggestion should be noted and logged as the process develops. Photos of the model and the suggestions are also useful.

Immediately after the Session

  • The input made by volunteers should be recognised.
  • The model(s) is/are pasted onto a polystyrene base, which is light and easy to transport.


  • This approach is helpful for people with language or literacy problems.
  • It can be used to involve people of all ages.
  • Planning for Real® is enjoyable.
  • It yields a great deal of information in a single day.
  • Anyone, of any age, can participate.
  • Participants can express different needs and priorities in a non-confrontational way.
  • Planning for Real® inputs are anonymous, so all views expressed have equal weight.


  • An event needs a lot of information and 'expert' support.
  • Planning for Real® needs careful facilitation to ensure that the results are realistic.
  • The venue needs to be fairly large so that the model can be made or displayed while giving people enough space to move around it and make changes.


  • Accord Group publications; training
  • Facilitator
  • Staff and volunteer support at the planning stage and on the day
  • Reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses of lay participants
  • Venue and catering.

Top Tips

  • The model can be used in sessions and displays elsewhere in the community to promote discussion and further feedback.
  • Keep it simple and fun.

Sources and Further Information

Planning for Real Team
Booth Street, Darlaston, West Midlands, WS10 8JB

Telephone: 0121 568 7070

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