Reflections on 2021

A young woman with her head laying on a copper disk and holding a card with the words 'I wish...'
Published: 15/12/2021

As 2021 ends I wanted to take a moment to reflect on another extraordinary year, Ann Allen, Chair of A&DS, writes.


At this point last year, we were putting the finishing touches to our Corporate Strategy for 2021-31. Since its launch in March we have been busy engaging with people and organisations across the country.

We have been lucky to have been able to adapt to deliver our work and reach so that we can engage with communities nationwide – whether it is moving the Scotland + Venice Whatif…?/Scotland exhibition from Venice to V&A Dundee or setting up workshops in the seven Climate Action Towns.

Our staff and board members have continued to show flexibility and dedication to delivering our strategy and we continue to see communities wanting to be able to shape the neighbourhoods in which they live. In early 2022 we will publish our Annual Review for 2021 allowing you to delve deeper into the work we have done this year.

Climate Emergency

As we look forward, the climate emergency is our greatest challenge, touching almost every aspect of our lives. Fortunately, places that can be created or adapted to help tackle climate change are also great places for people.

Energy-efficient homes don’t just cut carbon emissions, they also help to combat poverty and illness; flood alleviation schemes also create accessible outdoor spaces, and changes in how and where people work also lend support to local economies, as we have seen so vividly recently.

The vision from our strategy is for "A Scotland whose places are healthy, sustainable and thriving, where everyone works together to shape their future". We clearly have an important role to play in supporting organisations as they address the climate emergency.

Place Principle

At the core of our strategy is to create the conditions for the Place Principle to become the way we plan future investment. Our role in this is to provide leadership on the spatial aspects of placemaking and use our expertise to make it happen.

We will continue to work with our partners to show what a joined-up, place-based approach looks like and highlight the benefits this brings. We will use our experience and professional skills to inspire and support all those involved in creating, adapting and sustaining Scotland’s places.

World-scale challenges will need local solutions and we want to continue to work with communities to address local issues – ensuring access to high-quality greenspace, the regeneration of town centres, neighbourhoods where everyone has access to the services they need including local work and training opportunities, and infrastructure that enables active, sustainable travel.

So much more to do in 2022, in the meantime I wish you and yours a peaceful and healthy festive break, and I look forward to working with you in the New Year toward our aim of creating places that support thriving communities.

Ann Allen, December 2021

Header image credit: Neil Hanna