The Scottish Government’s ‘People, Places & Planning: A Consultation on the Future of the Scottish Planning System‘, closed yesterday after three months of consultation.

PAS submitted a response to the consultation, informed by input from our policy group, public workshops and our volunteer network. The following is a quick overview of some of the key points made in our response. Our full response can be accessed here.

Overview of our response
All statements in our response are based on our expectation of greater and more meaningful engagement within the planning system.

  • We believe there must be effective linking of Community Planning and Spatial Planning – plans should support each other’s aims and be well aligned. We also highlight the potential of the Place Standard to assist with this.
  • We suggest ideally a National Spatial Plan to replace the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy, which could also set housing numbers at the national level. Such a document should undergo parliamentary scrutiny.
  • We support the changes to the development plan process, provided that effective engagement has taken place at plan inception stage and the gatecheck process carried out effectively. The draft local development plan should clearly reflect the outcomes of the engagement and provide a sense of ownership by all stakeholders.
  • We support the removal of development plan examinations, replaced by the proposed changes to the development plan and new gatecheck process.
  • Local authorities should be given a new statutory duty to involve Community Councils in preparing the development plan (they currently only have a statutory duty to be consulted on planning applications).
  • The local place plan proposal – the “right for communities to prepare plans for their own places” – is a significant change to the current planning system, and requires careful consideration of many factors, in particular equity of opportunity for all communities. A dedicated package of resources must be developed to support communities in this process.
  • We support a strong and continued focus on transforming the Scottish planning system based on the use of current and future digital technology. Planning is fundamentally about people and placemaking. However, this is often not how planning is perceived by those who engage with the process – this needs to change. The presentation of many planning documents and correspondence can feel outdated and overly complex to non-planners engaging in the system.
  • Throughout our response, we highlight the importance of inclusive engagement, particularly including seldom-heard groups and young people. Use of digital technology, highlighted above, will also be a key means of engaging with young people.