RTPI Scotland is 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 game changers 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 debate 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 papers will form part of our response to the consultation and, hopefully, provide some constructive thinking on practical ways forward.
A workshop is being held on 15th of February in Perth, hosted by the East Scotland Chapter and looking at Infrastructure. The propositions to be discussed are:
Proposition 1: The Government’s infrastructure ambitions cannot be achieved without a new infrastructure agency
A new forward looking mechanism should be established to take a strategic, spatial overview of infrastructure investment and how it can be used to support sustainable development. RTPI Scotland believes that the primary role of a new national statutory body should be to have an overview of the strategic business case for front funding and delivering major infrastructure projects based on regular assessments of national infrastructure needs (including across key sectors such a low carbon, digital connectivity, physical connectivity, waste management and utilities). In this horizon scanning role the body should co-ordinate infrastructure planning and policy activities at the national level between relevant (public and private sector) infrastructure providers and planning authorities. The proposal within the Consultation Paper is to create a non-statutory national infrastructure and development delivery group. Questions this provokes include:
- Do you agree that a statutory body is necessary?
- If you don’t agree, on what footing should an alternative approach be based?
- Which infrastructure sectors and bodies need to be accounted for in the new approach?
Proposition 2: Regional planning partnerships should have a statutory basis
RTPI Scotland supports a cross-government approach to tackling issues at the bigger than local level. This will include integrating regional action such as City Deals, Regional Transport Partnerships and decisions on infrastructure investments. The Scottish Government recognises that stronger co-ordination between infrastructure and planning is needed at a regional scale. The Consultation Paper proposes replacing Strategic Development Plans with regional partnership working. This approach would embody identifying spatial priorities for infrastructure investment. Consideration is given to infrastructure providers being given duties to support proposals set out in the development plan. But, caution is needed regarding the practicability of coordinating different corporate structures as well as matters reserved to the UK government. Regional partnership working could offer some benefits in terms of flexible arrangements that the different regions of Scotland could use as suits their circumstances. It is important however to consider how results will be delivered in a voluntary system. It will be important to learn lessons from the English experience of the Duty to Cooperate.
- Do you agree that regional partnership working should have a statutory footing?
- If you don’t agree, how can we ensure that all relevant bodies participate in regional partnerships?
- Without a ‘plan’, how do we ensure that infrastructure providers are ready to deliver proposals in Local Development Plans and the NPF?
Proposition 3: An infrastructure levy to fund non-local projects should be established
RTPI Scotland supports the establishment of an infrastructure levy, which should be used to front fund non-local infrastructure which is either cross-boundary, transformative or otherwise genuinely strategic in nature. RTPI Scotland believes that an infrastructure levy should be set up and used to front fund strategic infrastructure within defined regions. The levy should be introduced and administered by statutory regional partnerships.
- Do you agree that an infrastructure levy would be an effective way to fund infrastructure up front?
- How would such a fund be administered?
- How would a fund relate to other investment programmes, including the Infrastructure Investment Plan and potentially an enhanced NPF?