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The earliest stage of project development requires strategic thinking and a 'brainstorm of ideas'. This stage is important, since it establishes a direction of travel that can be used as a basis for early masterplan stages, stakeholder engagement or as a prospectus for investment in an area or region.


In this stage, we discuss in outline with the client the strategic direction to be taken, having due consideration for existing public sector policy themes, public health drivers and legal obligations relating to climate change, and private sector concerns about viability, saleability and securing planning permissions.


To serve the discussion, we provide an outline strategic report that pulls together all of these strands using existing material, identifying particular themes that exist or appear to be missing, and making clear recommendations. This report may include technical inputs from commissioned partners.

What we write is iterative. It involves the client in multiple edits because this process is working towards a final agreed strategic position and thematic policy report or document.

Outcomes may simply be a report, or a series of notes, or perhaps it may contribute to or form a strategic adoptable policy document, such as an economic development strategy or infrastructure delivery plan for a region.

Examples include:

  • Transport East's Interim Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which was formed from a discussion with senior officers at five county / unitary authorities and presented to the Department for Transport as a high level economic prospectus for funding. The document is informing the more detailed regional transport strategy.

  • EcoResponsive's competition-winning concept masterplan for the Heath development site in Runcorn. This was formed from team discussions about the influence of modal filtering, walking, cycling and connected streets upon the objective of reducing car dependence from the outset.

Strategic foundation and project definition

activeplanning creates momentum for walking and cycling

In 2014, ActivePlanning founder Richard Lewis successfully promoted the New Malden to Raynes Park link in London as part of Kingston's £30m mini-Holland programme. The link was opened in late 2018 following  negotiations with landowner Thames Water, a period of major repairs to cast iron trunk water supply pipes, and construction of the cycle/ footway.