Independent review ‘affirms planning’s proactive role in Scotland’

Nick Wright
Nick Wright

RTPI Scotland has broadly welcomed recommendations made following an independent review of the Scottish planning system.

Published yesterday, the Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places report made 48 recommendations which the review panel said would help achieve a quicker, more accessible and efficient planning process.

RTPI said it is pleased that the panel, made up of Crawford Beveridge, Petra Biberbach of Planning Aid Scotland (PAS) and John Hamilton of the Scottish Property Federation, has taken a positive approach aimed at empowering planning to deliver great places.

The report, the Institute said, provides a useful and welcome building block on which to take forward a more proactive planning system.

In its response to the review the RTPI emphasised that a fundamental shift in thinking which recognises the central role planning has in creating successful, well-planned places across Scotland is needed.

The Institute pledges to work with Scottish Government and other key players to meet the review’s aims of “re-establishing the profession as a leader, an innovator and, a strong and effective advocate for the public interest”.

Nick Wright, convenor of RTPI Scotland, said: “At the outset we said that the review could be a real opportunity to maximise the potential of the planning system and the Review Panel should be commended in taking this approach. Although there is still work to be done in working out the details of recommendations we are delighted that the Panel has taken account of our views.

“We asked for the future planning system to be seen and used by national and local governments as an integral part of their work - frontloaded, outcome and delivery focussed, and adequately resourced to deliver the key components of the document.”

RTPI Scotland said its waits planning minister Kevin Stewart’s response to the panel’s recommendations and is keen to work with him and other key stakeholders to take forward new legislation, guidance, advice and support.

Its recent manifesto and supporting papers highlighted the need to connect planning vision with delivery; to more effectively link development infrastructure and land assembly; and to support planners to identify sustainable places for homes to be built.

The Scottish Property Federation said the planning recommendations could provide boost to Scotland’s real estate industry.

David Melhuish
David Melhuish

Director David Melhuish said: “The independent planning review report is hugely welcome. It offers a strong focus on a planning service that delivers positive outcomes for communities, public leadership and securing investment.

“The proposed strengthening of the National Planning Framework and the streamlining of the development planning system are important steps forward to ensure that we have a system which offers a level of certainty for investors – something that has been lacking for some time.

“The consultation on the community infrastructure levy is one that we will respond to with interest, and the government must pay careful consideration to the challenges and successes that it has faced south of the border.

“A national infrastructure agency will also be welcomed by many of our members who would like to see the public sector take a more strategic approach to the development of large scale infrastructure projects as it will provide a level of certainty for investors that remain fiscally risk averse.

“We look forward to engaging constructively with the Scottish Government to consider the recommendations contained in the review.”

Tammy Adams
Tammy Adams

Industry body Homes for Scotland also positively welcomed the report with head of planning, Tammy Adams, adding: “Having an efficient and effective planning system is key to being able to deliver much needed housing. The findings have therefore been keenly awaited and whilst we need time to fully digest what the report says, we are encouraged by the panel’s recognition of a requirement for change in existing practices and culture if the potential of our planning system is to be realised.

“We also agree on the need to ensure planning does all it can to deliver more homes of a high quality, recognising this as a national priority which requires a proactive approach.

“We look forward to playing a full part in discussions on how these recommendations can be implemented.”

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