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RTPI Scotland: Planning Bill must make clear planning will defend public interest

17 May 2018

The professional body for town planners in Scotland is supporting calls in a Parliamentary Committee report, published today, for an explicit statement of public purpose to be included in the Planning Bill.  RTPI Scotland will be promoting a statement in the Bill that says:

Planning

“The purpose of the planning system is to manage the use and development of land in the long term public interest.”

This would provide a strong sense of direction for all users of the planning system while not introducing undue complexity and uncertainty.  

Fraser Carlin, RTPI Scotland Convenor, says:

“Retaining and enhancing public trust in the planning system must be a top priority. The Bill presents an opportunity to re-inforce to public authorities, communities, and developers that the system exists to ensure that development takes place in the best interest of the public. 

“We want to create a more collaborative planning system where communities and other partners are engaged at the start of the process to identify and agree what is needed in their places. We believe that this approach, explicitly working in the public interest, will help us to move away from a system that generates confrontation and ultimately results in poorer outcomes for Scotland.

"We are pleased that the Committee’s report appears to share this ambition. We want to work with the Committee and Scottish Government to develop a more robust approach to joined-up strategic planning, and to ensure that all those working in the planning system – across the public, private and third sectors - have access to the support and resources that they need."

RTPI Scotland also wants to see statutory Chief Planning Officers introduced in all Scottish local authorities. This will help to ensure planning and development play a central part in actively tackling the economic, environmental and social challenges across the country, helping ministers and local authorities achieve their ambitions for a successful and sustainable Scotland. 

Mr Carlin continues:

“A Chief Planning Officer is another key mechanism to boost public trust upstream, rather than focussing on settling conflicts downstream. It embodies the collaborative working that the Scottish Government, the Local Government and Communities Committee, and the profession, are all keen to promote.”

A full package of amendments will be published shortly.