Planning and Architecture

Independent Review of Planning – meet the Secretariat

October 28, 2015 by 2 Comments | Category Independent Planning Review, Planning

The independent panel appointed to undertake the review of Scottish planning met for the first time on 13 October 2015. Planning and Architecture Division are providing support to the panel throughout the process, and there was much for the Secretariat to prepare in advance of the panel meeting.

The Secretariat comprises myself and Suzanne Stephen, who has led PAD’s work in performance. We have some further staffing support, including Shona Lines, who recently joined us from Finance Division, and David Grieve a Scottish Government graduate intern. We will be using our combined project management and analytical skills to ensure the review runs to time and budget, responses and queries are logged and responded to, and the panel is given all the information it needs throughout the process. In doing so, we are fortunate that we can also draw from a wide range of planning professionals and generalists with longstanding experience in planning from within the Division.

The first meeting of the panel was very positive, covering the approach to the review and its scope. The panel finalised the timeline and agreed the approach to the call for evidence and these have now been published. The panel were also briefed by the policy leads on the six key areas and this led to many questions from the panel about the issues and priorities. Importantly, the review questions were also discussed and finalised – these are wide ranging and will no doubt prompt many different thoughts and ideas. The questions make it clear that Ministers are open to fundamental changes to the system and want to hear honest views on what works, and what doesn’t work, from all those with an interest in planning. In my view, the questions are a real opportunity for the profession and wider society, to take a step back and really think about what kind of planning system might work best for Scotland in the future.

Over the next few weeks, stakeholders have the opportunity to submit evidence to the panel. There is already a lot of interest in the call for evidence and we are looking forward to seeing all the ideas flow in. We will also be busy preparing to commission consultancy support to assist with the analysis of written evidence. The panel will meet again in November when they will discuss the oral evidence sessions, planned for January next year. We will also be organising some wider review discussions, including discussions with RTPI and its members, workshops at the Heads of Planning Scotland event on 11 November and a similar session for the planning conveners in January. It looks set to be a busy – and very interesting – few months ahead.

Fiona Simpson
Assistant Chief Planner / Head of Planning Review Secretariat

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  • Sue Hamilton says:

    Exciting to hear that the review has such a comprehensive remit, and consequently surprising that it is being given such a short timescale.
    We have repeatedly been told that there was neither scope nor need for a review,
    It makes you wonder what kind of pressure has brought about this very welcome change!

  • Graeme Patrick says:

    I note the intention for work shops with Heads of Planning and Planning Convenors, however I wonder just how many planning applications they have submitted or development sites they have tried to deliver?