Planning for Outcomes: A New approach to Scottish Planning Policy?

Craig McLaren, National Director of RTPI Scotland, discusses how a revised SPP could be based around outcomes

Scottish Government recently asked for ideas on the priorities for change in taking forward its revision of Scottish Planning Policy (SPP).  The first consolidated SPP was published in February 2010 and was predominately an exercise in reducing the number of National Planning Policy Guidance notes – it wasn’t set up to greatly change the direction of policy.  This time may be different.  Scottish Government has already announced that they want the revised document to give greater weight to sustainable economic growth and placemaking.

Given this, at RTPI Scotland we have tried to take a more radical look at how the document works, what it contains and where it fits.  Our response to the Scottish Government’s Call for Ideas on SPP suggests that we explore seven tentative ideas for the new document.

Perhaps most radically, we have said that it could be worthwhile exploring if the revised SPP could be focused around a number of key outcomes.  This would help to demonstrate how the planning system contributes to key priorities and provide a more holistic basis upon which to plan Scotland.  Our initial thinking has identified ten possible outcomes:

  1. A sustainable Scotland – a country which lives within its environmental limits
  2. A liveable Scotland – a country which is an attractive place to live, work and visit
  3. An affordable Scotland – a country where people and communities can access the goods and services they need at a price they can afford
  4. A connected Scotland – a country where people, communities and businesses can link with one another and with others outside of Scotland
  5. A resilient Scotland – a country which is adaptable and able to deal with short, medium and long term change
  6. A wealthy Scotland – a country where business, communities and people  can thrive
  7. A healthy Scotland – a country which supports its people and communities to improve their wellbeing
  8. A fair Scotland – a country which has a just society aimed at improving the quality of life for all
  9. An inclusive Scotland – a country where people and communities are engaged in shaping the way it works
  10. An efficient Scotland – a country where its Institutions work individually and together, coherently, effectively, transparently and timeously

We realise that it if this is to be taken forward, work needs to be done to ensure that it will still allow the SPP to be useful to its audiences, and in doing this achieve the required balance of direction and flexibility to suit local circumstances.  We need to explore if these are the right outcomes, and, how they can be comprehensive whilst also providing clear priorities.  We need to make sure that the outcomes can be ‘backcasted’ so as to ensure that there are links from outcome, to indicator, to policy.

But we feel that it is certainly worthy of exploration.  What do you think?




One thought on “Planning for Outcomes: A New approach to Scottish Planning Policy?

  1. An acccessible Scotland could be included. Perhaps linkng the need for greater transport and land use coherence between those sectors and the spatial and public policies that shape places, services and local economies. Mulit-sectoral governance of these big sectors has not assisted well enough the local governance structures which serve places. Just a thought!

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