The Regeneration Game?

RTPI Scotland National Director, Craig McLaren, discusses planning’s contribution to regeneration.

RTPI Scotland has recently submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Inquiry into the Delivery of Regeneration in Scotland.  The Inquiry, which is led by the Local Government and Regeneration Committee aims to “identify and examine best practice and limitations in relation to the delivery of regeneration in Scotland‟.

We have made some core points to the Committee.  Firstly we have said that it is essential that regeneration enjoys the support and promotion of Scottish Government into the future. We recognise the tight fiscal circumstances that Government has to work within but feel that regeneration should be seen as a priority in the allocation of resources. After all, regeneration is an essential contributor to economic growth, social cohesion and environmental quality.

We also outlined how we feel that there must be an increased commitment to dedicated funding for regeneration.  We said that the funding landscape has to be simple and clear and Scottish Government, and others, must support new and creative ways of making best use of resources, including those aimed at developing land for regeneration. As part of this we suggested exploring the idea of providing the planning system with statutory powers (by designation powers for areas of regeneration along with matching resources) to lead on desired change.  We urged the Committee to look at how this had been done in Europe, as set out in the Delivering Better Places document published by Scottish Government.

Thirdly, we pressed for a better link between Community Plans, Single Outcome Agreements and Development Plans.  We think that the approach to partnership working in Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) and Single Outcome Agreements (SOAs) have much to commend them.  However, they are based on establishing priorities for resources and programmes and do not always currently assess or set out the implications these have spatially.  The spatial dimension is important as it is communities and neighbourhoods that these programmes will impact upon. Given this, we feel that there is a role for development plans to be used more effectively to show how investments and programmes will impact on people’s neighbourhoods, towns and cities.  We mentioned the Total Place approach that had been taken in England.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we said that regeneration programmes should recognise the important role played by planning, planners and the planning system in supporting regeneration efforts.   Core to planning is working with the different interests such as communities, public agencies, developers and community organisations to develop a deliverable vision for a place.  It has a key role in supporting sustainable change to help regenerate communities and so a properly-planned approach to regeneration will help to create regeneration which is sustainable over the longer term.

We outlined how at a neighbourhood level, a number of successful regeneration projects have used Master Plans to engage with communities to develop ideas on how to regeneration their neighbourhoods, and to deliver these, including the Crown Street Regeneration Project in the Gorbals, Glasgow; the current regeneration of Govan; the regeneration of Raploch in Stirling; Craigmillar in Edinburgh; and Ardler in Dundee. We highlighted the role of Townscape Heritage Initiatives in bringing together programmes and funding and for engaging communities, often in challenging contexts such as Parkhead and the East End in Glasgow.  And we said that planning had a key role in engaging communities in shaping their future, referencing Planning Aid for Scotland, Charrettes and projects such as the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere.

As ever, I’d be keen to hear what you think…

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