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Introduction of statutory Chief Planning Officers welcomed by RTPI Scotland

20 June 2019

A number of key agreements reached during the final debate in the Scottish Parliament on the Planning (Scotland) Bill have been welcomed by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland.

Included in the Bill, which now receives Royal Assent in order to become law, is a provision for the introduction of statutory Chief Planning Officers, an issue RTPI Scotland has campaigned on since the outset of the bill. 

RTPI Scotland also welcomed the retention of statutory strategic planning with the introduction of Regional Spatial Strategies (RSSs). RSSs follow closely the principles set out by RTPI Scotland earlier in the Bill’s process through Parliament, with a shifted emphasis on outcomes, more geographical flexibility and a less process-orientated preparation stage. 

RTPI Scotland Convenor Julia Frost said:

“We are especially delighted to see the Bill include provisions to make sure that there is a Chief Planning Officer in every local authority. This shows Scotland leading the way in ensuring that decisions on development, communities and policy will be made in the long term public interest.

“Many details remain to be thrashed out in taking forward secondary legislation and regulations and RTPI Scotland will work closely with Scottish Government and stakeholders to ensure we produce an effective planning system that can help Scotland unlock sustainable development for the next ten years.” 

There are also still concerns that many additional duties have been placed on Scottish Government and local authority planning departments which are still uncosted and unfunded. RTPI Scotland says it will continue to highlight the need to bring additional resourcing into the planning system. 

RTPI President Ian Tant, currently on an official visit to Scotland, said:

“From my visits to all parts of the United Kingdom, I constantly hear from planners that the lack of funding for local authorities is a major problem. Planners must be supported properly if they are to create a better and more sustainable society.”