Blog: Planning in the next Parliament: Building a successful and sustainable Scotland

RTPI manifestoRTPI Scotland planning policy & practice officer, Nikola Miller, sets out the Institute’s manifesto for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections in May 2016.

The Scottish election takes place on 5 May. At this important time for planning – what with a planning review and difficult economic circumstances – there is a need and an opportunity to promote the good things that planning can do for the country and what planners require to be able to do this. Given this, RTPI Scotland launched its Manifesto “Building a Successful and Sustainable Scotland” in December 2015. We have published this to try and influence politicians and stakeholders by highlighting the important role that planning can play in achieving Scottish Government ambitions and outcomes.

Of course, we believe that planning has an important role to play in enabling sustainable economic growth, sustainable development and social justice and that it can do this through creating economically successful, attractive, healthy, safe and sustainable places that allow people to thrive. Given this, the manifesto sets out how, with the right support, planners and the planning system can help the future Government to achieve these ambitions. It shows how good planning allows this to happen through ensuring that:

  • communities have a say on the future of their places;
  • approaches to whole costing places are integrated so as to achieve maximum value;
  • decisions are future-proofed and have short, medium and long term benefit; and
  • investment made now minimises the need for further spending in the future.

  • The RTPI Scotland Manifesto sets out 7 key game-changers. Firstly, it says that the next Scottish Government should provide a quality home for everyone who needs one. In doing this any future Scottish Government must take a more active role to increase the number of quality homes built through prioritising its Capital Borrowing Powers to fund housing and infrastructure. The new Government should also establish a body or number of special purpose vehicles to work with local partners to coordinate and provide infrastructure, deliver development and assemble land across Scotland.

    The manifesto argues that the new government should use the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy to set out how many houses need to be built and where, so as to allow Strategic and Local Development Plans to identify appropriate locations and that it should focus resources to areas of low demand to enable the provision of housing in areas of need of regeneration.

    The manifesto also says that any future Government needs to ensure that planning authorities have the resources they need. RTPI Scotland believes that any future Scottish Government must invest in the planning service, explore ways of de-cluttering unneeded procedures and replace the planning penalty clause for planning authorities with a system that incentivises continuous improvement.

    Thirdly, the is the need to support communities to shape the place they live in. The manifesto says that any future Scottish Government must support planning authorities, communities, PAS and community organisations to engage in early discussion on the future of their places.

    The need to support and protect town and city centres is highlighted with a need to ensure that a Town Centre First Duty is included in Community Plans and that this is monitored and reported on transparently. It is also proposed that there is a re-focus of the Regeneration Capital Fund towards town and city centres and an exploration of approaches to more flexible planning in town and city centres.

    The manifesto says that there is a real need to invest in infrastructure.

    In doing this RTPI Scotland believes that any future Scottish Government must prioritise resources to support infrastructure delivery and develop and implement innovative funding mechanisms to support infrastructure delivery, supported by action programmes contained in development plans. The Government should also use the National Planning Framework, Strategic Development Plans and City Deals to coordinate investment and align budgets for infrastructure to improve liveability, connectivity and the low carbon economy.

    The sixth game-changer in the manifesto is to ensure that we create great places for people. It is proposed that the new Scottish Government should establish a Cabinet Secretary for Places to coordinate support for cities, towns, villages and neighbourhoods. They should also be a national champion for quality placemaking. Key to this will be better aligning development plans, community plans, Single Outcome Agreements, investment plans, locality planning and infrastructure delivery

    And finally, the manifesto discusses the need to set out a clear, integrated framework for energy. A National Energy Strategy providing a clear evidence base and policy framework for decisions should be published and the spatial implications of this should be articulated through the National Planning Framework and National Marine Plan.

    Work is now ongoing promoting the manifesto and game-changers with the key political parties and other stakeholders. After the election the manifesto will be a handy agenda for discussion with new MSPs, Ministers and Government officials.

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