A key message has shone through to me after attending a number of recent events: developers, communities and politicians want the planning service to be more confident so that it can provide more certainty and predictability on planning decisions. All well and good. But how do we do this when the profession has taken a bit of a battering over the last few years, and is suffering from a serious bout of under-confidence?
Well, we need to get better at articulating our role, demonstrating to others the good things that planning does and quantifying the benefits that it brings. This may mean that planners need to be clearer about what’s a ‘yes’, what’s a ‘no’ and what needs further discussion, and that planners become bolder and take risks as part of providing vision for a place.
It relies on Scottish Government continuing to promote planning as a mechanism for achieving sustainable economic growth through providing predictability through its policy, guidance, advice and good practice and through supporting planners to be able to develop their skills and understanding of evolving planning issues.
Planning authorities need to ensure that they put in place a culture which breeds confidence, which allows staff to take professional decisions based upon their expertise and training, and, support newer planners to have the confidence to take decisions.
Politicians need to recognise the important role that planning plays and appreciate the longer term vision and strategic overview that planners bring.
Developers, investors and communities should try to work with planning authorities collaboratively, proactively and constructively to get the vision right.
And bodies, such as RTPI, have to promote planning as a ‘can do’ profession which is a tool in the box in helping ensure that the right thing is built in the right place at the right time.
I’ll certainly strive to do my bit…
On January 4, 2012