The East Neuk of Fife has a growing reputation as a peacful and picturesque haven.
At an event in the Dreel Halls recently, the Provost of Fife, Councillor Jim Leishman said the area, in his view, could stake a claim to be among the best in the world.
In geographic terms it is a small and diverse area with a tradition linked to sea and land.
Historically the communities were quite fiercely independent but the marine and agrarian heritage has in recent times merged to provide a unique place to live... and to visit.
But what does the future hold for the communities, and what direction should the area be taking?
These are the questions that it is hoped to answer through an East Neuk Community Action Plan (ENCAP), a strategy that is slowly but surely starting to take shape.
Now community councils and groups throughout the area are being asked to come up with plans for their own areas... and what is needed to fulfil these.
Representatives from a number of local groups, communities and businesses are working with Fife Council as the ENCAP Steering Group.
The aim is to draw up an agreed programme that will develop a strong and vibrant East Neuk community with a shared vision of what it is and where it is going, ensuring the continued long term success of the East Neuk and landward areas.
Such a united and co-ordinated approach is seen as important in influencing the decisions and developments in the years ahead.
The preparation of Community Action Plans is the first step in this process.
The steering group has a positive relationship with Fife Council and it is hoped that together they can gain momentum and win widespread support.
The first phase was to design a process and a toolkit for ENCAP to enable all the communities in the East Neuk to move forward with their own Community Action Plan with help and support.
Funding to do this came from the local authoroity and the Fife LEADER programme which encourages rural areas to explore new ways to become or to remain competitive, to make the most of their assets and to find ways of overcoming the challenges they may face.
Now, following a competitive tender process, STAR Development Group has been appointed to design the process and a Community Action Plan Toolkit for all the communities.
STAR (Small Town and Rural) Development Group is a community development consultancy that specialises in community action planning, and has designed anddelivered many successful programmes of community action planning including South Kintyyre, Mutrhill, Kilmadock Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and County Mayo in Ireland.
Over the next few months, STAR consultants Colin Roxburgh and Lesley Campbell will be contacting community councils and other community groups in the area to find out what they have already achieved, how they would want to be involved in developing their community action plans, and what resources and support they need to take the next step.
By the start of next year, a process and toolkit will be designed and agreed with the communities and the ENCAP steering group.
Irene Wallace, a member of the steering group and Colinsburgh & Kilconquhar Community Council, said: “We are delighted that we have secured funding to appoint STAR Development Group, and can now look forward to the East Neuk and landward communities taking the challenge of developing their own community action plans.
“Other communities around Scotland and Ireland have benefited greatly from this approach, using their action plans to secure funding for key projects, and influencing policy and service delivery.
“The process also encourages active citizenship and revitalises community action.
“This is our aim for the East Neuk.”
• The STAR development group provides consultancy services in community development, regeneration, and community and stakeholder engagement.
It has been working in small towns, rural communities and urban neighbourhoods since 1999.
It lists its specialities and expertise as community action planning, organisational development and capacity building, community and stakeholder engagement.
STAR has helped over 100 communities prepare community action plans.