MSPs are being given an historic opportunity to create a planning system that makes a real difference for communities across Scotland, the professional body for town planners has said.
Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland said the Planning (Scotland) Bill, being debated this week by the whole Scottish Parliament before a vote on Thursday, could help put in place a system that enables people to engage early in discussions on the future of the places where they live, work and relax.
However, RTPI Scotland warned that the proposals – which include new ‘Local Place Plans’ to allow communities to develop ideas on what they want for their own neighbourhoods – would only be effective if the necessary funding was in place.
Julia Frost, Convenor of RTPI Scotland, said:
"There are a number of very positive ideas being promoted through the Bill which, if properly resourced, could make the planning system more proactive, collaborative and able to deliver better designed places and buildings.
"We are pleased that it is proposed to cut the 91 unfunded duties that were introduced into the Bill earlier. However, MSPs need to ensure that every decision taken over the next three days of parliamentary scrutiny takes careful consideration of how the remaining duties will be funded, especially when planning departments have lost a quarter of their staff and have had their budgets cut by 40% since 2009.”
Other proposals in the Planning (Scotland) Bill welcomed by RTPI Scotland include:
- a more influential National Planning Framework to guide Scotland's development over the next 30 years;
- Chief Planning Officers to help councils 'future proof' decisions;
- new performance measures that would drive better designed places and buildings;
- a new approach to regional planning to make it easier to agree approaches on infrastructure and to support cross-council working.