Independent planning review report published
The independent panel set up to carry out a “game-changing review” of Scotland’s planning system has published its report.
Set up in September 2015, the three person panel chaired by Crawford Beveridge alongside Petra Biberbach of Planning Aid Scotland (PAS) and John Hamilton of the Scottish Property Federation were tasked with bringing together ideas to achieve a quicker, more accessible and efficient planning process.
The report, ‘Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places’, considered six key issues and made the recommendations designed to achieve the following outcomes:
Strong and flexible development plans
Aspirations for a plan-led system can only be achieved if development plans provide more certainty, are widely supported and have a much sharper focus on delivery. Our recommendations aim to give national recognition to strategic level planning across the city regions, whilst placing control of local development plans firmly in the hands of communities.
The delivery of more high quality homes
We propose new ways of working to replace conflict with collaboration. We recommend fresh thinking on housing, with planning pioneering ideas that increase flexibility and stimulate investment. New and innovative delivery mechanisms are required. Our recommendations aim to ensure that planning does all it can to deliver on this national priority.
An infrastructure first approach to planning and development
We want to see planning regain confidence in infrastructure delivery. Infrastructure investment should be proactively managed and directed towards areas of growth. We believe this will significantly increase housing delivery. Our recommendations aim to achieve co-ordination and collaboration and to provide new funding options.
Efficient and transparent development management
Whilst improvements have been made in recent years, public and investor confidence in the system depends on consistency and transparency. Our recommendations aim to create a much stronger link to the development plan and to standardise parts of the process where practice is currently unpredictable.
Stronger leadership, smarter resourcing and sharing of skills
We want to incentivise positive behaviour by all those involved in planning. There is scope to reconfigure resources and direct efforts to areas where they can produce the greatest benefit. Our recommendations aim to ensure that planning is recognised as a central corporate function within local authorities. We want to strengthen public sector confidence and ensure that private sector investment is rewarded with greater certainty and quality of service.
Collaboration rather than conflict – inclusion and empowerment
We want to make planning fairer and more inclusive and to establish much more committed and productive partnership working. Our recommendations aim to achieve real and positive culture change and significantly improve public trust in the system. These changes would broaden the appeal and relevance of planning and make better use of existing and emerging community interests.
The panel members said: “We are extremely grateful to all those who took part in the review process, through the call for written evidence, the oral evidence sessions and the online discussion forum. The evidence was vast and spanned a large number of subjects. Whilst views differed on the priorities and the solutions, we were impressed by the collective will from all stakeholder groups to improve Scotland’s planning system.
“From the outset, it was clear to us that the main structure of our planning system is not broken. However, it was also clear that for the potential of planning to be realised, a strong commitment to change existing practices and culture, and to re-focus the profession’s improvement agenda will be required. The Scottish Ministers set out 6 themes for us to address and as the review progressed it was obvious that those were the right areas for priority action. Our report builds on these themes and proposes a package of measures for change. Some of the recommendations represent large scale and in our view, game changing, proposals. Others are smaller scale improvements to ensure existing processes are as effective as possible. Some would require legislative change, others could be done quickly and easily with collective buy in and co-operation and embed a culture of inclusion.
“We appreciate that some stakeholders may have reservations about some of our recommendations, but based on the evidence before us, we are confident that these changes would significantly improve the operation and reputation of Scotland’s planning system.
“We look forward to seeing the Scottish Minister’s response to our recommendations in due course, and call on all those with an interest in planning to work together to deliver real and positive change in the coming years.”
The Scottish Government said it will now consider the recommendations put forward by the panel.
Planning minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are committed to ensuring we have a planning system that works for everyone.
“This independent report will help form the basis to kick-start a new, focussed and revitalised planning system. We will consider its recommendations in further detail and will respond in due course.
“I’d like to thank the panel for their work in this review and publication, and the efforts made to ensure everyone who has an interest in planning could contribute their ideas.”