Planning & Environment

The Scottish Government’s Chief Planner Jim Mackinnon has attracted criticism for speaking at an event launching the consultation exercise for the Edinburgh’s Garden District.

You might wonder what the harm is in that – consultation is a good thing, isn’t it? He made his position clear:

“For the avoidance of any doubt, I am not here to endorse this project. It is an exciting development, but there are statutory procedures to be followed before any decision is taken. I am, however, more than happy to endorse an enlightened approach to public engagement and involvement.”

The criticism has come because the consultation exercise is being run by a private sector developer, Murray Estates, which is promoting the project. Would he have been criticised if it had been the planning authority that was running the consultation? But surely consultation is consultation, irrespective of who’s running it!

It wasn’t so many years ago that the Scottish Government planners rarely departed from the policy script when speaking in public. We could all read the policy for ourselves. The spirit of openness and engagement in recent years has been refreshing and very valuable to practitioners. It would be a very retrograde step if this sort of criticism discourages them from leaving their “bunker” – but of course they would then be criticised for not leaving their “ivory tower”!

Neil Collar

Partner at Brodies LLP
Neil is a partner at Brodies LLP and consistently rated as one of Scotland’s leading planning lawyers. He is well known for both his planning inquiry advocacy and his advisory work. Neil has a particular interest in renewable energy developments.
Neil Collar