RTPI Scotland will be working closely with our members over the coming months to prepare our response to the Scottish Government consultation paper Places, People and Planning. We have already published a paper setting out some key gamechangers, Repositioning Planning. Alongside our chapters we are running workshops for members across Scotland, each one tasked with exploring one of the review’s key themes. These will discuss a number of propositions to help RTPI Scotland to pull together some implementable changes to the planning system that would help the Government achieve their ambitions to fulfil planning’s potential. These ideas will form part of our response to the consultation and, hopefully, provide some constructive thinking on practical ways forward.
A workshop on the 14th of February in Edinburgh, hosted by the South-East Scotland and Central Chapters will look at housing. The propositions up for debate are:
Proposition 1: An enhanced National Planning Framework (NPF) should say how many houses should be built, and where
The independent review of planning called on the Scottish Government to set housing targets nationally. In its consultation paper the Scottish Government has agreed that national and regional aspirations included in the NPF could provide some clarity, but only if aligned with local authority and developer priorities for investment. As part of the restructuring of the NPF proposed in the consultation paper the Scottish Government has also confirmed that Strategic Development Plans will no longer be prepared. Instead, the Government proposes enhanced cooperation across Government policy areas in the renewal of the NPF, and regional partnerships. With regard to housing delivery, these proposals pose the following questions:
- Do we agree that housing targets should be set nationally?
- If they are set nationally then should they account for geographies/ sectors/ economies?
- Should these be national ‘aspirations’ or ‘targets’?
Proposition 2: Two-year Housing Action Plans should be used to overcome barriers to delivery
The independent review of planning recommended an enhanced role for local plan action programmes. And, in the paper Repositioning Scotland: Building a Successful and Sustainable Scotland RTPI Scotland recommended the use of two-year Housing Action Plans to ensure the implementation of Local Development Plan (LDP) proposals for new housing. It is proposed that these action plans instigate early engagement with all stakeholders and focus on overcoming hurdles between different parties, for example developers/ landowners/ utilities providers. Action plans could also help to align housing delivery with infrastructure investment cycles. This could help to ensure that all the sites planned for in LDPs are delivered. Questions arising from this include:
- Do you agree?
- If you agree then what are the key things a Housing Action Plan needs to include?
- If you do not agree, how else could planning address delivery?
Proposition 3: Simplified Planning Zones/Consented Development Zones will focus local authorities on investing in key sites so that they are ready for delivery
In order to release more development ready land for the long term planning of housing, the Scottish Government has encouraged greater use of Simplified Planning Zones (SPZs), under the new name of Consented Development Zones (CDZs). This approach could deliver some of the benefits of Planning Permission in Principle, possibly bypassing some of the difficulties that have discouraged the Government from pursuing this approach further. CDZs could provide the certainty and predictability that communities, developers and investors crave, by guaranteeing the principle of certain types of development on some sites. The SPZ/CDZ approach raises some important questions:
- Do you agree that ‘Consented Development Zones have a role to play?
- If you agree, should they be brought forward in LDPs or a separate process?
- Are there other mechanisms for the planning system to focus on delivery of key sites?