Scottish Government urged to make planners statutory consultees in strategic local decisions

RTPI reportThe Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland has made the case for the planning function in each authority to be given statutory powers to be consulted in strategic decision-making processes.

In a letter to every Scottish Cabinet Secretary ahead of the imminent publication of the Scottish Government’s Planning White Paper, RTPI Scotland said the move is needed because strategic decisions by local authorities in areas such as economic development or education are currently often taken in isolation from planning departments.

The letter highlights how a statutory Chief Planning Officer will ensure building and development plays a central part in driving economic growth and tackling environmental and social challenges in each area of the country, helping ministers achieve their ambitions for a successful and sustainable Scotland.

Nick Wright, convenor of RTPI Scotland, said: “Far too often planning is seen to be just about regulation or managing conflict between different parties. As a result, many economic and social policies are not fulfilling their potential because they are ignoring the importance of well-planned local environments with good services and transport.

“The impending reform to the planning system is our golden opportunity to adopt a more holistic, corporate approach to planning and improve the places that people live in. To face the challenges of Brexit and beyond, Scotland needs to recharge the planning function cross the country to make sure that planners are at the corporate decision-making table.

“A Chief Planning Officer with the right powers will be able to broker the buildings and infrastructure needed to deliver on the ambitions of their colleagues in other departments such as education and economic development, and crucially, from among the wider community.”

According to RTPI Scotland, Dundee Waterfront and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park are two places which demonstrate the value of having planners in senior roles. Respectively they have transformed the face of one of Scotland’s key cities and harnessed real community influence in decisions about the future of a national natural asset.

This idea is among 14 “gamechangers” the RTPI Scotland has suggested to the Scottish Government for inclusion in the White Paper. Other key ideas outlined in its newly published paper ‘Repositioning Planning: Building a Successful and Sustainable Scotland’ include the introduction of a Community Right to Plan; ensuring that councils are able to charge a fee that covers the full cost of processing a planning application; and introducing a National Development Plan that considers where and how development that promotes a successful and sustainable Scotland should happen.

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