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McLeish: Planning Bill’s a good start, but there is space to build on the ambition

McLeish: Planning Bill’s a good start, but there is space to build on the ambition

The Scottish Alliance for People and Places welcomes progress in the Planning Bill and commends the Minister’s approach to engagement, but has said there is space to build on its ambition.

The Chair of the Scottish Alliance for People and Places, and former First Minister of Scotland, the Rt Hon. Henry McLeish has welcomed progress in the Scottish Government’s Planning (Scotland) Bill but has said the Bill could be more ambitious if it is to achieve the type of transformational culture change that the Scottish Government and the wider sector wants to see.

The Planning (Scotland) Bill was published on Tuesday 5 December 2017, and is the result of a lengthy consultation and a series of position papers in 2017, and an Independent Review of the Planning System which reported its findings in 2016.

The Scottish Alliance for People and Places is a collection of organisations working across the place-making and planning sector. Unique in Scotland, the group formed in recognition of the opportunity to build a more inclusive, respected, efficient and ambitious system of planning that puts people at the heart of their places.

The Alliance’s goal is to ensure forthcoming changes to the planning system in Scotland meet the ambitions of communities, the built environment profession and the Scottish economy by working with government, parliament and local communities to articulate a compelling argument for change and develop constructive ideas for how to realise that change.

Speaking following the publication of the Bill, Chair of the Scottish Alliance of People and Places, and former First Minister of Scotland, Henry McLeish said:

“We welcome the progress that has been made in the publication of the Planning (Scotland) Bill, and we recognise the significant consultation process that has been undertaken to get us to this point. ​Furthermore, the serious and detailed engagement of the Minister is an exemplar of good governance and we welcome it wholly.

“However, it is our view that there space to build on the Bill’s ambition and this is will be important if we are to achieve our collective goal of a transformational culture change in the planning system.

“In some communities in Scotland, planning is viewed as an imposition – something done to us by big developers in partnership with local government. It’s about our neighbour’s extension. It’s about stopping the development we don’t like, rather than working together to plan the positive developments we want to see – local parks, schools, hospitals, and, crucially, housing. In many other communities, especially in deprived areas, some people may not even know the planning system exists, let alone how to get involved.”

​”​We want to see a move to a much more inclusive, holistic and innovative system of planning, where there is systematic and robust engagement with local communities and all stakeholders from the outset and throughout the entire process. This requires a transformational culture change which involves articulating a compelling and positive vision for planning, rather than simply making technical changes.

​”​We look forward to working the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament over the coming months to present constructive and innovative ideas for how we think this can be achieved through the Bill.”