A vision for the New Planning Framework for Scotland

The institute wants widespread debate on the next version of the framework, says Craig McLaren.

RTPI Scotland is engaging with the Scottish government on the participation statement that will set out how it ensured that all relevant parties were involved in preparing the forthcoming National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3).

It has urged the Scottish government to ensure that the document and the process for producing it is backed at the very highest levels of government, given the need to ensure buy-in from all with an interest and a contribution to make.

RTPI Scotland has also outlined how the integrated spatial plan should be preceded by a rather more rounded and transparent evidence base. This would include a review of the existing NPF2, looking at both progress made against its objectives and the impacts of external factors on it, and publishing a "State of Scotland" report setting out the evidence base across issues that influence or are influenced by planning.

We feel that the NPF3 will be vital in guiding and better linking development and infrastructure. This will be particularly crucial to ensure that development is delivered and renewables go in the right places.

Also, the economic climate means that there is a greater need to prioritise investment and the levers, such as infrastructure, that can encourage it. Given this, there is a need to ensure that the NPF3 incorporates realistic options for growth, no growth and negative growth scenarios across Scotland.

RTPI Scotland has also said that the NPF3 needs to bring together and reconcile the goals of various other strategies and objectives published by the Scottish government and its agencies. These include the marine plan, land use strategy, transport plans, and strategies on low carbon, energy, broadband, enterprise areas, regeneration, national parks, health inequalities, housing and employment.

The institute has encouraged the Scottish government to stimulate debate on the NPF's future shape and content. In the past, discussion has focused on the process rather than the document's content. Given this, the institute believes that the Scottish government should look to publish a main issues report for the NPF3 to outline the key issues for discussion and the options available.

RTPI Scotland is also open to the idea of the Scottish government holding an "infrastructure charrette" to gather the thoughts of key players. This could help to raise the NPF's profile, stimulate genuine debate on the issues and encourage joined-up thinking on approaches to be taken through the NPF3.

We want to develop a dialogue with the profession and politicians on the issues the NPF3 covers. A key mechanism for this will be the RTPI-chaired Scottish Forum for Planning, which comprises key strategic players involved in planning in Scotland.

Craig McLaren is RTPI Scotland national director.

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