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Research highlights Scottish planning ‘disconnect’

Words: Laura Edgar

Resources and institutional issues are proving to be barriers to better linking spatial and community planning in Scotland, according to research by RTPI Scotland.

With regard to the Scottish Government’s definition of community planning, RTPI Scotland explains that the report, Linking People And Places: Spatial And Community Planning, explores the relationship between the two processes, investigating the “perception that there is a disconnect between the processes, outcomes and priorities of spatial and community planning”.

The Scottish Government defines community planning as a “process which helps public agencies to work together with the community to plan and deliver better services which make a real difference to people’s lives”.

The report considers legislation, guidance and good practice, interviews, questionnaires, responses from a “Call for Evidence” on the RTPI website and a poll.

From the research, report authors Sile Hayes and Nikola Miller were able to identify a number of opportunities that spatial and community planning has the potential for. These include:

• Delivering outcomes;

• Sharing processes;

• Sharing resources; and

• Sharing knowledge.

Additionally, Hayes and Miller identified the barriers to spatial and community planning:

• Timescales and statutory processes;

• Reduction in resources;

• Institutional barriers;

• Understanding of spatial and community planning;

• Commitment to the implementation of spatial and community planning; and

• Culture.

In response to the findings of the research, Linking People And Places makes several recommendations on how to take spatial and community planning forward and deliver “better outcomes for communities” and “opportunities for greater professional development for spatial planners”.

Recommendations include:

1. Recognition of the starting points to link spatial and community planning;

2. Aligning processes to help deliver spatial planning and community planning outcomes more effectively and efficiently;

3. Spatial planning needs to articulate to community planning what it can do;

4. Recognising the need for, and role of, spatial planning in delivering community planning;

5. More effective communication between spatial and community planning actors;

6. Improving spatial planners' knowledge of community planning and where they can contribute;

7. Exploring plans for overlap and consistency;

8. Being clear about roles and responsibilities at different levels;

9. Exploring how community-led approaches contribute to the delivery of both Community Plan and Development Plan outcomes; and

10. A ‘drill down’ further to explore practical opportunities and barriers.

Hayes said: “We spoke with a number of people working in spatial planning and community planning across Scotland about their experiences. There was a clear desire to make the connection, although this will often requires new ways of working. This research will help to inform those involved on how to go about this."