RTPI Scotland welcomes government’s NPF4 position statement

The Scottish Government has issued a position statement which outlines its current thinking on the issues that will need to be addressed when preparing Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4).

RTPI Scotland welcomes government's NPF4 position statement

The document contains a particular focus on net zero emissions, resilient communities, a wellbeing economy and better, greener places.

In the foreword, housing and planning minister Kevin Stewart said: “Scotland has many strengths and assets that we have depended on throughout the global pandemic. We have an exceptional environment with great buildings and a strong sense of character and identity. Many of us live in places that can provide the facilities we need within a short walk from our homes.

“However, that experience hasn’t been shared by everyone. By not always considering the needs of all people, irrespective of their age, gender, geography, disability or socio-economic status, it has become clear that decisions about our places that were made in the past have locked in future problems.

“Inequality persists – within our society, and between the places where we live. Too often, places don’t do enough to support our health and wellbeing and we still have more to do to build the homes that people need.

“COVID-19 has shown us that people can feel more isolated where there are too few accessible local amenities or nearby green spaces for play or physical activity.

“Our Programme for Government, recognises the important role that our National Planning Framework, along with local development plans and local place plans, can have in redesigning our communities to best respond to the pandemic. Emerging regional spatial strategies also have a great deal to contribute to the future of long-term planning in Scotland.

“National Planning Framework 4 will set out a new plan for Scotland in 2050. The strategy will have to make some big decisions about our future development. Our ambitious targets for addressing climate change demand a fresh approach and significant investment in infrastructure, as well as a new understanding of how zero carbon living might work.

“We need to anticipate and plan for our changing population to focus more on improved health and wellbeing and a better natural environment for everyone in Scotland. It is clear that good quality homes must be delivered in the right places, alongside the services and facilities that communities need. It is essential that planning supports our green economic recovery in the short term, as well as enabling strategic investment in the long term. And all of this must be achieved through a highly performing planning system that improves our places: our cities; towns; villages; rural; and island areas.

“The preparation of National Planning Framework 4 is a significant task that cannot be achieved by government alone. Our approach has been open and collaborative from the start, and I am very grateful to all those who have taken the time to share their thinking on a new spatial plan and policy changes. This Position Statement brings together the thoughts and ideas we have heard so far with wider Scottish Government commitments to begin to set a new course for planning in Scotland.”

Welcoming the publication, Irene Beautyman, convenor of RTPI Scotland, said she was pleased the government had taken on board many of the recommendations put forward by the Institute in its 10 Big Ideas for NPF4 paper, which are all underpinned by the Institute’s Plan the World We Need campaign.

She said: “The National Planning Framework has the potential to help transform Scotland. The position paper published by the Scottish Government is a very promising foundation for this and shows how planning can support a sustainable and equitable green economic recovery that delivers the new normal we need post-Covid.

“I am delighted the government has included so many of the RTPI’s recommendation in this document, including prioritising planning for the net zero carbon target by 2045, putting people’s health and wellbeing at the heart of the planning system and prioritising active and sustainable travel.”

Ms Beautyman also welcomed proposals to better link the NPF with other strategies and the Infrastructure Investment Programme but said she would like to see this developed further to ensure that NPF4 is accompanied by a 10-year capital investment programme to enable the vision to be delivered on the ground with clear, trackable milestones.

She praised the inclusive approach so far adopted by the Scottish Government in working towards NPF4 and said the RTPI looked forward to further engaging.

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