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Scottish Government urged to look beyond procedural changes

Words: Laura Edgar
Scotland / Shutterstock_278587181

RTPI Scotland has urged the Scottish Government to describe in greater detail the context in which its proposals are to be taken forward.

The institute was responding to the Scottish Government’s position statement Places, People and Planning, in which a fresh round of consultation was launched in June, on proposals to reform planning in Scotland. The consultation closed on 11 August.

Stefano Smith, RTPI Scotland convenor, said that the proposals have the potential to make a positive impact on the operation of the planning system but the institute is concerned that, alone, they are not enough to have a “game-changing” impact.

“Without a wider scope that also takes into account the context within which the planning system operates – in particular access to and control over land, resources, and corporate priorities – there is a risk that the review will not result in the delivery of the sustainable development that Scotland needs.”

Smith said that more clarity is needed on some of the changes the government envisages, including how to support communities to develop their plans, how to plan at a regional level and how to fund new infrastructure.

“The review is a great opportunity to ensure that we have a planning system that creates great places –- supporting economic growth, protecting our environment, and helping people to improve their quality of life. To do this, it needs to be able to work with communities, public agencies, developers and investors to agree a vision for an area that is sustainable, viable and deliverable. RTPI Scotland will be pleased to continue to work with Scottish Government to take this forward.”

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) said the Scottish Government’s proposals do not focus enough on increasing supply of affordable housing.

“A key driver behind the planning review was the concern that Scotland wasn’t building enough houses and its remit was to find solutions to this major problem,” said Sarah Boyack, head of public affairs at the SFHA.

“We are proposing a number of actions that we believe will increase the delivery of affordable housing in Scotland, create jobs and meet outstanding needs.”

The SFHA’s proposals are:

  • National and regional targets should be set for the delivery of affordable housing in Scotland.
  • Local authorities should be allowed to transfer land at existing value in order to address the lack of affordable land that is available for housing development.
  • National or regional bodies should be set up to deliver infrastructure up front in order to unlock key sites and increase the delivery of affordable housing.

Homes for Scotland believes there is “distinct” lack of detail in Places, People and Planning. Responding on behalf of the trade body’s 200 members, chief executive Nicola Barclay said: “Given the crucial role the planning system plays in Scotland’s social wellbeing and economic success, the position statement offers a distinct overall lack of detail, particularly in relation to the process for the new local development plan gatecheck and the introduction of an infrastructure levy to address what is becoming the most significant challenge to housing delivery.”

It is Homes for Scotland’s view that a “great deal more” information is required before the package of legislative and non-legislative reforms can be effectively scrutinised.

“To that end, Homes for Scotland and its members remain ready to positively engage and assist in developing a clear, robust and effective set of the proposals that meet the housing needs of our growing population.”

Read more about the Scottish planning review:

Stewart launches fresh consultation on Scottish planning reforms

RTPI Scotland: Ministers need to consider issues beyond planning system

News Analysis: Scottish planning system needs simplifying

Strategic development plans should be replaced, Scottish planning review finds

News analysis: Scottish planning review – What do you think?

Scottish Government to reform planning following review

RTPI: Five things we learned from the Scottish Government response to the independent planning review

Convention 2016: Scottish planning review positive about profession

Institutes combine to establish planning reform priorities

Scottish Government consultation on aligning community and spatial planning launched 

Into alignment: An interview with John McNairney

RTPI Scotland: Clearer national roadmap for development needed 

RTPI Scotland: Ministers need to consider issues beyond planning system 

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