Planning & Environment

My initial impressions on the consultation draft Scottish Planning Policy mentioned the corporate makeover. The Core Values section is a good example.

CVs replace Core Principles. The CVs are more concise and focused.

Although there is no indication that the CVs are listed in order of priority, it is interesting that the CVs start by mentioning focus on outcomes (but what does that actually mean?!!!). The CPs had focus on quality of outcomes (as the last bullet point), but quality is not mentioned in the CVs, although the Introduction says “Planning should take a positive approach to enabling quality development …”. A lot of the changes from the SPP are like this – moving between sections, making it difficult to decide if there is any actual difference in the meaning and application.

New themes in the CVs include facilitating economic recovery and sustainable economic growth, and providing a supportive business environment.

The plan-led system was top of the list of the CPs, but is now the third on the list of CVs, which seems right, since the plan is only a means to an end. The reference to local and national park authorities having primary responsibility for operation of the planning system is now part of the principal policy on Engagement, and not mentioned in the CVs – that also seems right, as it’s not a “value”.

The planning service is also to be inclusive, which seems optimistic given the adversarial positions often adopted by parties. As the SPP says (but the draft doesn’t):

“It is essential to recognise that planning issues, by their very nature, will often bring differing interests into opposition and disagreement and the resolution of those issues will inevitably disappoint some parties. The planning system cannot satisfy all interests all of the time.”

It is reasonable for Core Values to be aspirational, but reality can’t be ignored.

Neil Collar