Longer term plans key for engaging communities, says Henry McLeish
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 much more explicit about the requirement for local communities to be engaged at the earliest stages of the planning process.
Published on December 5, the Planning (Scotland) Bill is the result of a lengthy consultation and a series of position papers during 2017 as well as an Independent Review of the Planning System which reported its findings in 2016.
Former First Minister McLeish made the comments following the publication of the second position paper on the Scottish Government’s Planning Bill, entitled ‘Utilising an effective plan-led approach’.
In the paper, the Alliance, a group of 12 organisations from a range of sectors, welcomes the inclusion of a “gatecheck”, a stage where key evidence is gathered locally for the preparation of the Local Development Plan, but argues that the Bill needs to be much more explicit about the requirements to involve the community and other stakeholders are this crucial early stage.
The paper outlines seven recommendations about this part of the Bill, including:
Speaking following the publication of the paper, McLeish said: “An effective plan-led approach is crucial for the long-term development of the great places in which we live our lives. Although it may appear unnecessary bureaucracy, national, regional, and local plans allow us to agree what we want to see for our communities in the longer term. They provide consistency, credibility and certainty in decision-making.
“More importantly, plans provide a forum for people to contribute their views and hold decision-makers to account. By involving communities at the very earliest stages of Local Development Plans, we can ensure the views of the community are paramount in key decisions about their local areas on an ongoing basis. Our paper, Utilising an effective plan-led approach, has harnessed the collective expertise of our diverse membership to set out how we think this can be achieved.”