The Year in RTPI Scotland

Craig McLaren, National Director at RTPI Scotland looks back on 2012

It has been a busy year for RTPI Scotland and our activities are highlighted in our Annual Report for 2012.  On the policy and public affairs front we have submitted 21 responses to consultation documents issued by Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and other bodies, and, have given oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament once and written evidence given on 4 occasions.  The policy agenda has been dominated by Scottish Government’s Planning Reform, Next Steps initiative which has looked at the future of developments plans, how to deliver development, streamlining planning processes and planning fees and resources.

We have been trying to ‘get on the front foot’ on policy issues and so have published a number of Briefing Papers trying to set the agenda on planning issues in Scotland.  These include a paper Meeting the 2020 Renewable Energy Targets: Is Planning Part of the Solution?  which was timed to influence a Scottish Parliament Inquiry into renewable energy.  We also organised 2 discussion dinners which that looked at new ways in which planning can help to deliver development which featured presentations from Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the American Planning Association and Mike Galloway, Director of City Development in Dundee City Council.

One of the highlights of the year has been the establishment of a new Scottish Forum for Planning which brings together 16 key national organisations to discuss planning issues.  This is chaired and managed by RTPI Scotland and involves Scottish Government and its agencies, Heads of Planning Scotland, Scottish Property Federation, Homes for Scotland, Environment Link, CBI Scotland, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and other professional bodies.  It has met 3 times in 2012 and looked at issues including Planning Reform, the review of Scottish Planning Policy, the National Planning Framework and Scottish Government’s Town Centres Review.  Derek Mackay, Minister for Local Government and Planning, attended the December meeting to provide an update on Planning Reform.

We have also been involved in number of important advisory groups including those dealing with the 3rd National Planning Framework, the Town Centres Review and the Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill.

RTPI Scotland organised 56 events across Scotland in 2012.  The very large majority of these were organised by our local Chapters and were either free or low cost to Members, whilst we also held our Annual Conference on Towards a Low Carbon Economy: What Role for Planning?, our Scottish Young Planners Conference on Delivering Development and our Annual Sir Patrick Geddes Commemorative Lecture which was given by Danish Architect Planner Jan Gehl on Cities for People: Geddes’ Legacy.  You can watch the lecture on video – its’ well worth a watch.

Another key milestone was the publication of the 150th edition of our journal Scottish Planner.  We published 6 editions of Scottish Planner throughout the year focusing on issues including cities, performance and resources, community engagement, low carbon economy and infrastructure.  And we continued to use social media to get our messages over and to stimulate debate on planning issues – we’ve got over 840 followers on the @RTPIScotland twitter account and 500 members on the RTPI Scotland Linked in Group.

So, 2013 beckons and it looks like it is going to be another interesting and busy period with the publication of a new draft Scottish Planning Policy document and the development of the 3rd National Planning Framework…

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