Report sets out blueprint for Scottish planning reform

1 Jun 16

An independent review of Scotland’s planning system has called for root-and-branch reform to engage the public more actively in improving the built environment by making the process more interesting and inclusive.

The report, Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places, calls for a statutory right of consultation for young people and community councils, and says communities should be empowered to bring forward their own local place plans, which should contribute to wider development plans.

But it stops short of recommending a third party right of appeal, a long-standing demand from radical planning reformers. The report says such a right would “add time, complexity and conflict to the process, and have the unintended consequence of centralising decisions, undermining confidence and deterring investment.”

The three-member review panel was led by the chair of the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisors and former Scottish Enterprise chief executive, Crawford Beveridge. He was joined by the head of Planning Aid for Scotland, Petra Biberbach, and Scottish Property Federation chairman John Hamilton.

“There is a strong case to be made for securing new funding solutions directly to support delivery of development plans,” the review panel say.

“Planning needs to move away from micro-management of the built environment, avoid focusing on processes which add little value, and focus instead on delivering great places now, and for future generations.”

They acknowledge that the system already aspires to such objectives, but add: “The current context of public sector finance, low market confidence, complex inter-agency relationships, land reform and community empowerment all demand that there is a renewed and collective drive towards achieving this goal.

“Our recommendations aim to re-establish a corporate approach to delivering infrastructure with planning at its heart.”

The review was initiated by the Scottish Government, but independent in its findings. It was welcomed by Planning Minister Kevin Stewart, who said it would “help form the basis to kick-start a new, focused and revitalised planning system.

“We will consider its recommendations in further detail and will respond in due course,” he said.

  • Keith Aitken
    Keith Aitken

    covers Scottish affairs for Public Finance from Edinburgh. He was formerly economics editor and chief leader writer on The Scotsman and now has a busy freelance career as a writer, broadcaster and event chair.

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