Chair of the Scottish Alliance for People and Places and Former First Minister Henry McLeish says Scottish Government must ensure requirement to engage communities earlier in the planning system is written into Planning Bill.
The Chair of the Scottish Alliance for People and Places, and former First Minister of Scotland, the Rt Hon. Henry McLeish, has called on the Scottish Government to be more ambitious in its plan to involve local communities earlier in the planning process.
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 former FM made the comments in a written submission to Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee as part of its scrutiny of the Bill.
In the submission, the Alliance, a group of 12 organisations from a range of sectors, makes fifteen recommendations on how the legislation could be improved to make sure communities are more involved and establish trust in the system.
Some of the recommendations include:
- There should be a Chief Planning Officer in every Local Authority to oversee regional and local plans, and ensure the link between spatial planning and community planning is working well.
- The National Planning Framework should be subject to parliamentary approval.
- Detailed plans of how communities will be engaged throughout the development of the Local Development Plan should be drawn up at the early stages of the process.
- The quality of community engagement should also be introduced as a metric for assessing planning performance.
- National and regional housing targets should be set in national planning policy.
- There should be a national Planning Commissioner to drive up standards of community engagement, assess planning performance and build skills and capacity in the planning profession and in local communities.
Speaking following the publication of the paper, McLeish said:
“The simple truth is that many communities across Scotland do not feel involved in key decisions about their local areas. There is a wide consensus and ambition out there, including in the Scottish Government, to bring about a transformational culture change in planning that puts people at the heart of the decision-making about their local places.
“One of the many problems that we must tackle in Scotland is our housing crisis – everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from, should have a roof over their head. This new law can go some way to helping us address that.”
“We welcome the intention and the progress in the Planning Bill, but to make this ambition a reality we have to be willing to be bold and make involving local communities meaningfully at the earliest stages of the planning process an explicit legal requirement. We have made a series of recommendations to the Scottish Government and the Local Government and Communities Committee, utilising the collective expertise of our members, in the spirit of constructive and positive feedback.”