RTPI Scotland to take forward planning ‘gamechangers’

Stefano Smith
Stefano Smith

RTPI Scotland is taking forward five gamechanging ideas for the Scottish planning system in new papers published today.

Each focussing on a specific proposal outlined in the Institute’s formal response to the Government’s consultation paper on the future of the planning system, these papers will be sent to relevant Ministers, the highest level in Government and other stakeholders, and used as a springboard for in-depth discussion on how changes can be implemented in a pragmatic way.

Stefano Smith, convenor of RTPI Scotland, said: “As Scottish Government prepares to commence drafting the Bill that could implement far-reaching changes to the planning system, it is vital that we maximise the opportunity for our ideas to shape its contents. We welcome the open approach of the Scottish Government to the review of planning so far, and we hope that they will be receptive to our ideas, furthering the productive and positive relationship that the Institute enjoys with Holyrood.”

The three papers published today focus on the need for a statutory Chief Planning Officer in local authorities, how to make an “infrastructure first” approach a reality in an era of serious resource constraint, and how we could make local place plans work, respectively.

On the role of a statutory Chief Planning Officer in every local authority, RTPI Scotland believes that the Chief Planning Officer would make sure planning is integrated early on in decisions on investment and policy aimed at driving economic growth and tackling environmental and social challenges. The planning reform is a golden opportunity to adopt a more holistic, corporate approach to planning; we can improve places for people by making sure that planners are involved in conversations from the outset.

Mr Smith said: “A Chief Planning Officer with the right powers will be able to anticipate and then help deliver the buildings and infrastructure needed to support the ambitions of their colleagues in other departments such as education and economic development, and crucially, from among the wider community.

“There is a precedent for this kind of role, such as Chief Social Workers and Chief Education Officers, to make sure that strategic decisions are collaborative. This would not have to mean new appointments and extra resource pressure to councils.”

On making an infrastructure first approach a reality the Institute has proposals for a national mechanism, with statutory powers and duties, with responsibility for leading infrastructure planning in Scotlandand maintaining a rolling audit of infrastructure pressures and opportunities. An infrastructure fund and levy would then help deliver on the priorities identified through the auditing process.

On making local place plans work RTPI Scotland supports a community right to plan. The paper outlines two scenarios in which the RTPI believes local place plans could help communities to tackle socio-economic inequalities and the challenges that can arise from new major developments. Strong ties to Community Planning will be essential to make this a success.

Two further papers on Local Development Plans and housing will be published in the coming weeks.

Share icon
Share this article: