RTPI President Phil Williams praised the many examples of proactive planning he saw in Scotland during his visit on 2 and 3 June to meet members, planners and councillors in North Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and Loch Lomond (pictured below) and the Trossachs National Park.
Phil Williams, President of the RTPI, said:
"It was great that even at a time of economic constraint and big issues facing planning in Scotland, I saw many fantastic examples of genuine teamwork, partnership working and innovation that were making a real difference to people. The positive and proactive approach being taken by planners in Irvine, Kilmarnock and Loch Lomond was inspiring and another demonstration of why we should be proud of planners and planning. It was really worthwhile visiting and learning from smaller towns and villages which don't always get the accolades they may deserve."
Phil met with Depute Provost Robert Barr (pictured below, far right), councillors and planners from North Ayrshire Council in Irvine to discuss key planning issues in the city. Irvine, a former new town, is developing new social and affordable housing and Local Development Plans are playing a key role.
Phil later visited Irvine Harbour to see high quality new housing developed with consideration for its historic context. He walked around the town centre to discuss the Council's commitment to Town Centre First Principle aiming to promote town centre development.
"I was very impressed by the team ethic in North Ayrshire. There was a real spirit of partnership and cooperation between officers, Councillors, communities and with other partners. The team was committed to making Irvine and East Ayrshire a better place for people and putting in place the solutions to do this."
Phil met with Provost Jim Todd who made clear his political commitment to Kilmarnock and the important role that planners played in its regeneration. Afterwards he toured Kilmarnock, Scotland's Most Improved Town in 2015, hearing from East Ayrshire Council’s planners (including Planning Manager Karl Dorozenko, pictured right) about their commitment to using community planning as a means to join up services and approaches across organisations to improve quality of life.
"I can fully understand why Kilmarnock has been named Most Improved Town in Scotland. Its politicians have worked hand in hand with officials to take a long-term and strategic approach to the area. This has meant taking some bold decisions and bringing different functions together to serve communities. Planning has a key role to play in this."
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Phil discussed the major planning issues, including resources, the new Scottish planning review and opportunities to promote planning as a positive enabler and facilitator with Petra Biberbach, Chair of the Planning Committee and Stuart Mearns, Head of Rural Development and Planning at the National Park.
After meeting with members of the Park Park Planning Committee, he heard about the proactive approach being taken to the development of hydro water schemes in the area. At the site he saw the work done to maximise the energy generated whilst minimising the impact on the environment. Later, at Invergulas, he viewed the new scenic routes installation - a modern structure that provides a viewing point that frames the southerly view down Loch Lomond.
Phil was impressed with the National Park's Our Live Park community engagement exercises as part of the Local Development Plan process. The community engagement took a really innovative approach using social media, marketing, charrettes and other engagement techniques. It was a finalist at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence 2016 and Winner of the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning in 2015.
"Visiting Loch Lomond was a fascinating experience. The National Park is a treasure with the highest quality environment. Planners have a vital role in its guardianship and I was delighted to see how they have taken this on board and aimed to balance the needs and impact of development and regeneration. They have put in place new and innovative approaches which have helped them to do this, and have ensured they bring the community with them."
RTPI Scotland represents 2,100 members in Scotland, working with members to contribute to policy development to improve approaches to planning for the benefit of the public, support our members to work with others who have role in developing places in Scotland and improve the understanding of the planning system.
Read RTPI Scotland’s Linking People and Places: Spatial and Community Planning
Follow RTPI Scotland on Twitter
Join RTPI Scotland on LinkedIn
Follow RTPI Scotland on Instagram
Read President visits Australia and New Zealand