The three proposals are linked to the institute’s formal response to the Scottish government’s consultation paper on the future of the planning system. Two further proposals will be published in the coming weeks.
The papers published focus on the need for a statutory chief planning officer in local authorities, how to make an “infrastructure first” approach a reality in an era of serious resource constraint, and how local place plans could be made to work.
On the role of a statutory chief planning officer in every local authority, RTPI Scotland believes that the this would make sure planning is integrated early on in decisions on investment and that policy would be aimed at driving economic growth and tackling environmental and social challenges. “The planning reform is a golden opportunity to adopt a more holistic, corporate approach to planning; we can improve places for people by making sure that planners are involved in conversations from the outset,” it said.
RTPI Scotland convenor Stefano Smith said: “A chief planning officer with the right powers will be able to anticipate and then help deliver the buildings and infrastructure needed to support the ambitions of their colleagues in other departments such as education and economic development, and crucially, from among the wider community.
“There is a precedent for this kind of role, such as chief social workers and chief education officers, to make sure that strategic decisions are collaborative. This would not have to mean new appointments and extra resource pressure to councils.”
On making an infrastructure first approach a reality, RTPI Scotland has proposals for a national mechanism, with statutory powers and duties, with responsibility for leading infrastructure planning in Scotland and maintaining a rolling audit of infrastructure pressures and opportunities. An infrastructure fund and levy would then help deliver on the priorities identified through the auditing process.
On making local place plans work RTPI Scotland supports a community right to plan. The paper outlines two scenarios in which the RTPI believes local place plans could help communities to tackle socio-economic inequalities and the challenges that can arise from new major developments.