"Communities need to be empowered and planning needs to reach out to those who have previously been excluded from debates about the future of their place" Petra Biberbach, Chief Executive, PAS
We all care about our places and it is only right that we should all have a say in how they change and evolve. Local knowledge goes a long way in strengthening the best in places, as well as in identifying and overcoming their weaknesses. In recent times planning has made great progress in moving towards a culture of participation and co-production, but we recognise that the planning system needs to do more to respond to the experience and knowledge of communities. Collaboration is at the heart of what planners do, meaning that we have the skillset to facilitate people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in decision making. Getting this right will result in better decisions and better places which are more sustainable.
X-Route: Co-designing Active Travel
There is clear enthusiasm from many communities to have more influence over the changes that happen in the places where they live, work and play. The planning system is changing to make sure it facilitates this participation and supports the benefits it brings, delivering the new development that Scotland needs.
The South East Scotland Transport Partnership's project 'X-Route: Co-designing Active Travel' put young people at the heart of designing new solutions to make it easier to get around by bike. As well as being able to identify the region's poorest cycle connections, the project sparked new ideas, including 'glow in the dark' cycle lanes to make cycling safer at night. A route lined with glowing discs has now been developed.
The project involved young people from the outset, a group whose voices have not been heard enough in debates about how places should develop. X-Route has not only led to improved infrastructure for cycling, but also provided an opportunity for active citizenship among a demographic all too often excluded from conversations about public places and service provision.
If more journeys are to be made by bike and on foot, a culture change is needed. Valuing the skills of planners and putting people at the heart of decision-making will be crucial to achieving this. RTPI Scotland feels the X-Route approach should become standard procedure, not an exceptional case.
We are asking MSPs to make sure that Local Place Plans introduced by the Planning Bill are properly resourced. This will allow them to make a meaningful impact on how communities engage with decision making about their places.