Craig McLaren on what RTPI Scotland is doing about the 2016 election to the Scottish Parliament
In this parliamentary term planning has had support from Scottish Ministers and officials. We have seen the publication of a new National Planning Framework, a revised Scottish Planning Policy. There has been a review of approaches to town centres, the introduction of Enterprise Areas and the publication of the Joint Housing Delivery Plan that have all seen the value of planning and recognised that it can be part of solution. There is also, perhaps more than ever, detailed scrutiny of the planning performance statistics and the drive to report on these more holistically through the Planning Performance Frameworks. And the role of planners and planning in helping to tackle ‘the housing crisis’ is becoming a key point of debate. The prospect of the Scottish Parliament election in may 2016 will sharpen politicians’ minds, especially as they will be bombarded more than ever more with opinions on what needs to be done by the next Government.
That is why RTPI Scotland has been working on its approach to the 2016 Scottish election for a good few months now. Through discussion with members and stakeholders we have been identifying what we think the key issues are; what our messages should be; what game-changers we can promote; and gathering the evidence we need to support our lines. Emerging priorities include housing; performance and resources; town centres; infrastructure; community engagement; energy and public service reform.
Once we have agreed the key issues we aim to publish a background paper on each to help stimulate some discussion within, and beyond, the profession. We will promote our thinking to possible partners and supporters to see where alliances can be formed and complementary approaches can be taken. We will also take our views and ideas the political parties in the hope that they see them as attractive propositions that could fit in their own manifestos. We will, of course, attempt to convince of them of the value of what we say but it will be entirely their decision if they want to take them on board.
We also plan to produce our own manifesto or list of ‘asks’ which we will send to candidates before the election. This will be a useful means of setting out our key aims as well as being a handy agenda for meeting with those MSPs and Ministers who are returned in May.
And, nearer the time, we will produce support materials for Members to help you engage in the election as individuals. Undoubtedly our Chapters will be exploring the possibility of holding hustings in their area to allow members to engage with prospective MSPs on planning issues. The whole idea is to get planning moved up the agenda and to ensure that politicians see the positive things that planning is doing, and can do in the future.
Watch this space – we will be using the blog to keep members up to date on what we are doing.