News  |  Posted March 3, 2022

Advocating for a more understandable and effective planning system

PAS Policy Group: Advocating for a more understandable and effective planning system

Barbara Cummins, Chair of the PAS Policy Group and Vice Chair of the PAS Board outlines the important role of the PAS Policy Group

PAS consistently advocates for early engagement at all stages of the planning process. That applies whether we are thinking of developing spatial plans, development proposals or in the formation of policy. That is why it is important that PAS itself makes an impact when new or revisions to legislation, policy and guidance are proposed that affect the communities we work with. PAS responds to the consultations issued from Scottish Government and other national agencies and helps to influence those documents, so they reflect good practice and make for a more understandable and effective planning system. We use what we know from the work we do with communities across Scotland to inform those responses.

David Wood is the PAS staff member who is our policy lead but the rest of the group is made up of volunteers who give of their time and expertise from across all walks of planning life in Scotland. Unlike other parts of our work, we don’t have a regular meeting schedule – it isn’t always possible to predict when consultations will be coming out so we can only plan so far ahead. That can mean we don’t meet for months or that we need to meet a lot for a concentrated period; working on NPF4 responses means we agreed to meet weekly for a few weeks to break up the work, then we can take a well-earned break. The conversations we have, and the comments we make, mean that David can formulate a comprehensive and evidence-based response to consultations that focus on PAS key interests.

All of our responses are published and we know we do influence the final documents because we can see where changes are made that reflect what we asked for. An example of this is the fact that the promotion and use of mediation in planning was introduced in the 2019 Planning Act and PAS pushed hard for that and for guidance to be produced; which did happen in the form of Circular 2/2021.

Membership of the PAS Policy Group is for 3 years, so look out for calls for new members when we have vacancies; it’s a great way to get an overview of everything new that’s coming and to support the work of PAS.