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27/01/2021

Next Scottish Government ‘should create places for people’

Words: Laura Edgar
Scotland / iStock

RTPI Scotland is calling on the next Scottish Government to create healthy places for people by embedding 20-minute neighbourhoods into policy, practice and investment decisions.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted "the importance of having well-designed, attractive, healthy and sustainable communities where people have local access to the services, shops and facilities they need on a daily basis", the institute’s manifesto states.

Published ahead of the Scottish elections in May this year, the policy statement goes on to say that 20-minute neighbourhoods can provide a focus for town and city centre regeneration, with housing introduced to support existing services and shops.

If the Place Principle, which supports collaborative place-based action, is to be effective it needs to be given "teeth" so that it can influence policy, practice and investment on the ground.

The manifesto also calls for support for communities to develop local place plans, which are introduced in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019. Communities should have the resources to access expertise and to engage with people in their area if local place plans are to be a success. In 2019, RTPI Scotland research found that each plan could cost between £10,000 and £30,000.

Barbara Cummins, convenor of RTPI Scotland, said: “The pandemic has brought in sharp focus the need to plan, prepare and provide a route map for a different Scotland. Our key focus must be on climate action, health inequalities, the wellbeing economy and affordable housing.

“Empowering communities to design the places in which they live, by engaging in local place plans will ensure more vibrant, accessible and sustainable places to live and work post-Covid.

“Each local place plan could cost between £10,000 and £30,000, but there is currently no designated funding in place to support this.”

The manifesto also calls for the next Scottish Government to:

  • Deliver an ambitious National Planning Framework 4 that commits funding to help tackle the climate emergency and achieve net-zero carbon targets, reduce health inequalities, support a wellbeing economy and ensure a good-quality and affordable home for everyone who needs one.
  • Address the underinvestment in the planning services across Scotland to create a world-leading planning system through increasing planning fees and making sure they are used to support planning services.
  • Establish an independent, specialist body to coordinate and provide strategic, upfront and long-term infrastructure advice to Scottish Government and to identify resources required for delivery.
  • Ensure the new planning improvement coordinator is able to provide independent advice, is resourced adequately and introduces outcomes-based performance management.
  • Introduce a planning apprenticeship and skills development programme.

Cummins added: “There needs to be a proactive, well-resourced planning service in place to support the implementation of our vision. From establishing existing deficiencies in active travel infrastructure and services, to restraining new housing and retail which are dislocated from settlements, a well-funded planning service will be essential in weaving together local place plans across localities.”

Read the manifesto here on the RTPI website.

Image credit | iStock

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