PFR history

Since its inception over 30 years ago, Planning for Real® has become one of the best known techniques for involving communities in the planning decisions that affect them, so much so that it has become almost a generic term for many similar forms of public engagement.

Planning for Real® (PFR) was devised by Dr Tony Gibson who, at the time, was part of Nottingham University’s Education for Neighbourhood Change Unit and first used in 1977 in Dalmarnock in Eastern Glasgow. Soon after the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) asked Dr Tony Gibson to run two pilot projects in Lightmoor (Telford) and Birkenhead (Wirral) to enable communities to shape future plans for their areas. Both projects won Times/RIBA Awards and in 1988 the Neighbourhoods Initiatives Foundation (NIF) was formed, with Dr Tony Gibson as its first Director, to build on this success and deliver PFR more widely.

For the next 21 years the Foundation created an enviable track record of supporting community-led planning and action, skilling up local residents to take a lead in bringing about change and by working in this way, leaving a legacy of stronger and more able communities.

In 2009, PFR, its staff and the ongoing community empowerment work transferred to the Accord Group. Whilst Accord operates predominantly in the Midlands region the PFR team continues to operate on a national basis.