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24/11/2016

RTPI Scotland: Make planners statutory consultees in local decisions

Words: Laura Edgar

RTPI Scotland has written to every Scottish cabinet secretary to put forward the case for the planning function in each authority to be given statutory powers to be consulted in strategic decision-making processes.

This comes ahead of the publication of the Scottish Government’s planning white paper, which was announced following an independent view of the country’s planning system.

The institute said strategic decisions by local authorities in areas such as economic development or education are currently often taken in isolation from planning departments, “and this needs to change”.

The letter highlights how a statutory chief planning officer would ensure that building and development plays a central part in driving economic growth and tackling environmental and social challenges in each area of the country. This would, the letter continues, help ministers achieve their ambitions for a successful and sustainable Scotland.

Nick Wright, convenor of RTPI Scotland, said: “Far too often planning is seen to be just about regulation or managing conflict between different parties. As a result, many economic and social policies are not fulfilling their potential because they are ignoring the importance of well-planned local environments with good services and transport.”

He said the impending reform to the planning system is a “golden opportunity” to adopt a more holistic, corporate approach to planning and improve the places that people live in.

“A chief planning officer with the right powers will be able to broker the buildings and infrastructure needed to deliver on the ambitions of their colleagues in other departments such as education and economic development, and crucially, from among the wider community,” said Wright.

The suggestion is one of 14 recommendations laid out in RTPI Scotland’s new report, Repositioning Planning: Building a Successful and Sustainable Scotland, to the Scottish Government.

The report also recommends:

  • The introduction of a Community Right to Plan;
  • Ensuring that councils are able to charge a fee that covers the full cost of processing a planning application; and
  • Introducing a National Development Plan that considers where and how development that promotes a successful and sustainable Scotland should happen.

Repositioning Scotland can be found here (pdf).

Image credit | iStock

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