Blog: Planning for a Fairer Scotland?

Craig McLaren
Craig McLaren

RTPI Scotland director, Craig McLaren, looks to stimulate a discussion on where planning and planners can support social justice.

The Scottish Government has launched a discussion where it is inviting people and organisations across the country to have their say on what a fairer Scotland should look like in 2030, and the steps that should be taken to make this vision a reality. The Government is looking for ideas on how to tackle issues, build on opportunities and to get an indication of what matters most. They want to have created opportunities for the widest possible range of voices to be heard through a series of events in the autumn that brings together people from across the country to discuss what practical steps we need to take to create a fairer Scotland. The Scottish Government will respond to these ideas, and the wider conversation, setting out what we will do to help create a better Scotland.

The discussion paper that has been published to help stimulate debate sets out where Scottish Government would like the country to be in 2030 with outcomes being:

  • I get a fair working wage which allows a decent standard of living
  • I feel part of a supportive community which offers a good quality of life for me and my family
  • I know I can rely on a fair and simple social security system

  • Everyone can access the health and social services support they need to be safe, happy and healthy
  • I can get access to justice quickly and at reasonable cost.
  • Where you are born, where you live, or who you are doesn’t stop you having the opportunity to reach your full potential
  • I am not charged a higher price for services, such as electricity, just because of my circumstances

  • There is good quality childcare available if and when I need it
  • There are plenty of local facilities and activities which are looked after and provide things for me and my family to do
  • Every child is loved by someone who can provide for their needs
  • There is more affordable housing allowing me and my family to rent or own a decent and warm property

  • I feel safe no matter where I live or where I go.
  • I’d like to think that there will be important roles for planners, planning and the planning system in supporting many of these. We won’t be able to influence all of the outcomes, but surely we can support improvements in health, in the quality of service provision, in community safety, in local facilities, in providing affordable housing, in community engagement and empowerment, and in working to maximise the potential of places? We need to ensure that we articulate where we can add value, bring expertise or help deliver these. This is why I’m keen to hear from planners, and others, about where planning can help and what it needs to be able to do this. This will help RTPI Scotland to engage more effectively in the debate.

    There is work already underway which can be usefully fed into the conversation such as research RTPI Scotland is taking forward on better linking spatial planning and community planning, broader RTPI Planning Horizon’s work on Promoting Healthy Cities, Future Proofing Society and Creating Economically Successful Places, and current research looking at Place, Poverty and Inequality and recently published research on The Gorbals Regeneration – Delivering Economic Value Through Planning. We’ve recognised projects such as the Central Govan Action Plan. And also useful are the Town and Country Planning Association’s publications on Planning Out Poverty and Reuniting Health With Planning in Scotland and their campaign on Planning4People. But there will be more, much more. Given this, any thoughts, ideas or good practice would be welcomed through these pages, tweeting @RTPIScotland or using Scottish Government’s #FairerScotland hashtag or by emailing us on

    It is important that we contribute to the discussion and show the role that planners, planning and the planning system can play, and, the value that we can add.

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