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RTPI Scotland: Planning reform must avoid mere procedural changes

14 August 2017

RTPI Scotland has urged the Scottish Government to look beyond merely procedural change to the planning system, and to provide more detail on how proposals are to be taken forward.

The professional body for town planners was responding to the Scottish Government’s Places, People and Planning Position Statement which is part of the ongoing review of the planning system and which will lead to a Planning Bill towards the end of the year.

RTPI Scotland Convenor Stefano Smith said:

“Overall the proposed reforms have the potential to make a positive impact on the operation of the planning system, but we are concerned that alone they are not enough to have a game-changing impact.

"Without a wider scope that also takes into account the context within which the planning system operates – in particular access to and control over land, resources, and corporate priorities – there is a risk that the review will not result in the delivery of the sustainable development that Scotland needs.

“We also need more clarity on some of the changes the Government envisage, including how to support communities to develop their own plans, how we will plan at a regional level, and how we are going to fund much needed new infrastructure.

“The review is a great opportunity to ensure that we have a planning system that creates great places - supporting economic growth, protecting our environment, and helping people to improve their quality of life. To do this it needs to be able to work with communities, public agencies, developers and investors to agree a vision for an area that is sustainable, viable and deliverable. RTPI Scotland will be pleased to continue to work with Scottish Government to take this forward.”

No final decison yet on Planning Bill

The Scottish Government is undertaking a major review into the planning system. Further to their consultation on twenty proposals for change, a position statement and accompanying Strategic Environmental Assessment Report were published in June 2017 which provide an update of the review. Read RTPI Scotland’s full response to this here.

RTPI Scotland has also published five think pieces to advance ideas to feed into the thinking of the Scottish Government in shaping the Planning Bill. 

No decisions has been made on the content of a future Planning Bill at this stage and the Government said further views will be taken into account as it moves towards finalising the proposals for change.