Places, People and Planning – Development Planning

RTPI Scotland will 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 a series of member workshops 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 provide some constructive thinking on practical ways forward.

A workshop is being held in Inverness on 27 February, hosted by the Highlands and Islands Chapter, with the goal of tackling some of the questions about the future of the development planning system. The propositions that we will be debating are:

Proposition 1: Gateway checks would help to simplify and strengthen plan making and delivery

The proposed extension of the Local Development Plan cycle to 10 years, and the removal of the Main Issues Report and Supplementary Guidance Notes have been proposed by Scottish Government as ways to strengthen and simplify the plan making process. As a part of this restructuring, a new ‘gatecheck’ is suggested, to help to improve the examination of plans. The gatecheck would deal with significant issues at an early stage, ensuring that the plan making process can be carried forward with the main parameters already agreed.

Issues suggested for inclusion in this gatecheck include community planning, housing land supply, environmental assessment, and audits of existing infrastructure. It is proposed that the gatecheck would be chaired by an independent reporter from the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA), supported by relevant specialists and a citizen’s panel.

In Inverness we will be asking:

  • Will gatechecks help to strengthen plan making and delivery?
  • Which issues should the gatechecks cover?
  • What are the alternatives to introducing a gatecheck?

Proposition 2: Earlier viability and site assessment would help to simplify and strengthen plan making and delivery

So that draft plans are informed by robust evidence from the outset, the Scottish Government has proposed using viability and site assessments earlier in the plan making process. To aid delivery Scottish Government has proposed that site assessments be submitted by the site proposer, and subjected to appraisal, before any site allocation is made. Questions this provokes, that we will address on Monday, are:

  • Do you agree that earlier site appraisal would simplify and strengthen the plan making process?
  • Should market site appraisals be independently revised? If so, by whom?
  • Are there other ways in which LDPs could be simplified and strengthened?

Proposition 3: Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) and the National Planning Framework (NPF) should be merged to create a National Development Plan (NDP)

With reviews of both the NPF and SPP due shortly, the Scottish Government has proposed using reform of the planning system to deliver an enhanced national spatial strategy. This would include stronger support for the local development planning system through statutory status for such a strategy.

In the context of improving ties between different regional and national strategies and planning, it is also worth considering how we can ensure that the current review of the National Transport Strategy (NTS) will feed into next Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR). The latter will coincide with the next iteration of the NPF.

In Inverness on Monday we will be asking:

  • Do you agree that SPP and the NPF should be merged to create a single national spatial strategy?
  • Should such a strategy include wider policies applicable across Scotland, that do not need to be replicated across the 32+ LDPs?

Should the National Transport Strategy and Strategic Transport Projects Review run in parallel?

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