Response 96142805

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Jessica Maxwell

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The James Hutton Institute

Making plans for the future

1. Do you agree that local development plans should be required to take account of community planning?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
Do you agree that local development plans should be required to take account of community planning?
Delivering the vision for planning as something that inspires and delivers enhanced wellbeing, identity and community resilience requires thinking holistically and engaging all the relevant sectors are that are impacted by, and impact on, the environment. Therefore, it makes sense to engage with the community planning processes to ensure that plans reflect and enhance integrated service delivery. There should be a spatial dimension to community planning in terms of ensuring the built environment and infrastructure makes it possible to deliver services effectively for all sections of the community, in the most appropriate places (Local Outcomes Improvement Plans). This brings in the geographical dimension to social justice, particularly in the process of developing Community Planning locality plans. Historically, there are examples of very close links between Community Planning Partnerships and local authority planning teams (e.g. Aberdeen City Challenge Forum on Land Use in which planning teams at all levels were a core component of the Forum and its engagement with the wider stakeholder community). Sharing visions, concerns and identifying opportunities to be explored in a Local Development Plan is consistent with achieving the broader aims set out for the planning system in Scotland. A particularly important aspect appears to be the expectations of planners ‘as key community planning partners’, and processes of linking spatial and community planning. However, previous experience with integrating National Park Planning with Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) indicated that there is a tension between a spatial expression of outcomes and more thematic approaches that are traditionally less place-based and more focussed on meeting the needs of particular communities. Therefore, capacity building may be required to bring together different approaches to planning. Furthermore, as with all collaborative working, careful consideration should be given to governance arrangements. For example, how is authority and accountability shared between the two policy regimes? On a more practical note, it is useful that both local development plans and community planning partnerships share the same geographical boundaries (the Local Authority area) but we are not clear if the entire CPP sub-divisions map directly onto local development plan areas; nor whether the planning cycles are aligned. Getting these structural processes ‘right’ will help with the integration of these approaches. It would be useful to note how this proposal links with the proposals on improved ‘regional partnership’ working (see for example, the regional infrastructure audit on p36); as well as the regional land use partnerships proposed under the Land Use Strategy. In theory, making strategic planning more adaptive and flexible, and avoiding transaction costs associated with producing a plan that is not necessarily required, is positive. However, it appears that the proposal removes a statutory requirement for a planning process with a written output, with a statutory requirement for ‘partnership’ with less obvious procedures, milestones, outputs or opportunities for scrutiny and evaluation. Therefore, whilst the move to partnerships, with a focus on ongoing processes of collaboration, away from a focus on plans, is positive, careful attention is required to ensure that these partnerships do not become a ‘talking shop’ and have a clear process by which they support local development planning. It will be important to manage the risks associated with making the process more adaptive and flexible but potentially creating more work and providing less strategic guidance, leadership and vision.

2a. How can planning add greatest value at a regional scale?

How can planning add greatest value at a regional scale?
It is in the process of planning, with an inclusive and open approach, that greatest value can be added. Planning at the regional scale can provide a broad geographic focus for cross-institutional interests, drawing on the skills and knowledge of stakeholders in those regions. The experience of the James Hutton Institute in participating in the Tay Cities Deal (an example in the consultation document) was that it provided opportunities to work together, collaborate with new partners, and identify shared and multiple benefits.

2(b) . Which activities should be carried out at the national and regional levels?

Which activities should be carried out at the national and regional levels?
There appears to be a significant gap in the process of protecting biodiversity. Planning decisions should take account of national-level biodiversity commitments (as envisaged in the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity, Scottish Government, 2013), but often this appears not to be the case. The explanation may be because assessments of biodiversity impacts submitted as part of the planning process are inadequate, or because there is no clear route by which local planning teams can fully take into account biodiversity conservation related issues. An important exception to this is the National Parks, where spatial biodiversity conservation plans are being prepared. Improvements could be made to the approach to guiding national level strategies for biodiversity, such as habitat networks, and at regional levels using emerging tools to inform decisions regarding future land use such as those prepared for the Regional Land Use Pilots (e.g. Aberdeenshire - The Land Use Partnerships proposed in the Scottish Land Use Strategy could provide mechanisms for overseeing and advising on regional level activities. Work on Regional Land Use Pilots indicated support for such bodies, this was coupled with the desire that these bodies could influence future action and deliver more integrated land management. However, it is not always easy or possible for an advisory group to do this without access and influence to decision making at the national (Scottish), UK or European scale. Therefore, such groups could report to a national level forum reflecting the relationship between regional and national interests, and highlighting the national solutions which can be adapted to local circumstances.

2(d). What is your view on the scale and geography of regional partnerships?

What is your view on the scale and geography of regional partnerships?
The James Hutton Institute has undertaken research, funded by the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme and European Union, on partnerships in different contexts and at different scales and we would be willing to share our knowledge on what characterises a good partnership. Findings show several well-established benefits of a partnership approach which apply at both local and regional scales. In summary, a partnership approach enables the integration of the needs of all interested parties, and can ensure that those not directly involved in owning and managing land have a say in the management of their place. This research has shown that ‘new’ bodies in an already cluttered institutional landscape were only welcomed if they demonstrated they could make a positive difference and achieve things that existing institutions could not. When considering implementation, it will be important to consider how these regional partnerships fit with existing regional, catchment or landscape scale groupings. It is useful to reflect on why many previous regional fora (e.g. sub-basin advisory groups for the Water Framework Directive; LBAP groups; Regional Priority Advisory Committees etc.) seem to be suspended or in flux, and to what extent these proposed regional partnerships might supersede or complement these. Such partnerships require resources to enable action on the ground, and/or the power to influence how incentives, regulation, advice and plans are implemented. It is important to encourage attendance at, and support for, established sectoral and geographically based groups; whilst the regional partnerships provide a forum to bring them together for further dialogue.

2(e). What role and responsibilities should Scottish Government, agencies, partners and stakeholders have within regional partnership working?

What role and responsibilities should Scottish Government, agencies, partners and stakeholders have within regional partnership working?
It is unclear from the proposals who will be involved in regional partnerships; or whether the function of these partnerships is to connect local authorities, or will be synonymous with local authorities. For example, in areas with high population densities, the regional partnership will involve multiple local authorities but, for example, it is unclear how a ‘region’ will function in the Highlands. There are benefits in leaving the composition of a partnership fluid, to be regionally defined, but there should be clarity over the lead ‘responsible authority’; and it would be beneficial to set out the minimum set of partner organisations expected within each partnership. To avoid conflicts developing between local authorities, it would be appropriate for the Scottish Government, or its agency Architecture & Design Scotland, to have the role of convening partnerships, and setting their terms of reference including conflict resolution and evaluation criteria, selecting representatives, and adjudicating in the case of conflict or non-delivery. Public agencies (e.g. SNH, Transport Scotland) should have a statutory responsibility to participate in partnerships, and to align operational plans with agreed regional priorities and vision. Their role would be multi-fold. They would provide technical expertise (e.g. with the regional infrastructure audits or priorities for future development); to provide links with other stakeholders and other processes that might interact with regional level planning priorities; and, to help deliver the agreed regional planning priorities. The distinction between ‘partners’ and ‘stakeholders’ is not explained, although it appears that partners may describe community planning partners, and probably include local authorities. It may be important to distinguish between the representatives of the local authority administration and elected councillors. It is unclear from the description as to what extent these partnerships are focussed on the administration, or whether, like some processes in England and Wales, as well as the Scottish National Parks, there is a proportion of democratic election to these bodies. Other stakeholders, from the voluntary and private sectors, are also legitimate participants in any regional level strategic visioning, planning and prioritisation process. However, it is vital to pay attention to how representatives are selected, particularly in terms of whether they can and do represent the population attributed to them, and the mandate they have to act on behalf of their constituencies. For example, an NGO or engineering consultant may offer considerable expertise, but may not represent the full range of opinions regarding future priorities. Care is also needed to recognise and manage potential conflicts of interest and perceived commercial advantage from access to such decision-making processes.

3. Should the National Planning Framework, Scottish Planning Policy or both be given more weight in decision making?

Please select one item
National Planning Framework
Scottish Planning Policy
Ticked Both - National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy
Should the National Planning Framework, Scottish Planning Policy or both be given more weight in decision making?
The emphasis should be on improving the alignment of planning frameworks, policies and plans. Increased weight on the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) should assist in the delivery of aims which are coherent between spatial and temporal scales. This should be accompanied by a clear narrative which describes how local changes relate to sought after national outcomes, which in turn should help with community engagement and shared understanding across stakeholders. The use of tools such as the Story Map produced by South Ayrshire illustrates how information can be linked to communicate a ‘big picture’ along with local implications. Such tools also support achieving the aims of the review by Beveridge et al. (2016), “Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places”.

5. Do you agree that local development plan examinations should be retained?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes

5(a). Should an early gatecheck be added to the process?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
Should an early gatecheck be added to the process?
Yes, we agree that the gatecheck process could be a useful mechanism for addressing issues earlier in the process, and for encouraging early engagement towards improved decision-making. This could reduce the cost and time associated with the development plan examination; however, it is unclear how decisions will be made regarding the contested issues that should be addressed during the gatecheck process, through mediation, and those that should be passed on to examination. Clarification on the gatecheck and modified examination processes is needed.

5(b). Who should be involved?

Who should be involved?
Multi-stakeholder engagement during this early process will be important; however, this is inevitably resource intensive and time consuming. Clear objectives are needed to make this a legitimate, meaningful and purposeful process. It is likely that each local development plan will require the involvement of a different set of stakeholders. Therefore, there is a requirement for a careful mapping of stakeholders to ensure that involvement during each gatecheck is tailored to local context and avoids defaulting to a common set of invitees. It will also be important to be transparent about the independent reporters’ roles and responsibilities, and how the ‘relevant specialists’ are determined/selected.

5(c). What matters should the gatecheck look at?

What matters should the gatecheck look at?
We agree that the gatecheck should assess: (i) how local communities will be involved in development proposals; (ii) how to link with community planning processes/infrastructure; (iii) key outcomes; (iv) the quantity of land needed for housing; (v) environmental impacts; and vi) how to prioritise interventions. In addition, these matters should link to local as well as national priorities, and should outline clearly the potential opportunities and risks. The early gatecheck process should enable better coordination and consideration of priorities at these different scales.

5(d). What matters should the final examination look at?

What matters should be the final examination look at?
As stated in the consultation document, the final examination could address outstanding areas of disagreement and/or conflict. It should also act as a final verification of the matters that were discussed and the decisions that were made during the gatecheck to ensure that they were appropriately implemented. This would provide an opportunity to determine how or whether issues related to equality have been considered and/or addressed during the process. For example, who has been encouraged or enabled to engage in the process regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

5(e). Could professional mediation support the process of allocating land?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
Could professional mediation support the process of allocating land?
Yes, we support the need for professional mediation to support the process of allocating land. Research at the James Hutton Institute builds on literature illustrating how skilled and professional facilitation and mediation is an important success factor in multi-stakeholder engagement. However, recognition is required of the deep structural aspects of conflict that cannot always be resolved by more dialogue. Sometimes mediation can find a mutual solution but often there are opposing interests, very different objectives and opposite values. It depends to a significant extent on the nature of the conflict and whether facilitating, or mediating, is taking place in the context of statutory sanctions and/or decisions that have already been made. Details regarding when to use professional mediation are needed, including: (i) the circumstances in which it might be used; (ii) who would provide these services; and (iii) how professional mediation would be paid for. Research at the James Hutton Institute on partnerships and implementing the ecosystem approach (funded by the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme) suggests that facilitation and mediation are recognised as vital but it often proves hard to gain ongoing funding for these activities. As recent evaluations of participation illustrated, it is hard to monetise the benefits of such processes yet in the longer term, such approaches can help win-win solutions become ‘normal’ and avoid expensive and damaging delays and litigation. It would be useful to learn from, and build on, models of good practice in mediation that exist in housing, social work and industrial relations sectors. It is important that good practice is followed to ensure relationships are improved, not damaged. It is also important that such a proposal has a clear remit and complements similar remits in the Land Reform Bill and Community Empowerment Act.

People make the system work

9. Should communities be given an opportunity to prepare their own local place plans?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes

9(a). Should these plans inform, or be informed by, the development requirements specified in the statutory development plan?

Please select one item
Ticked Inform
Be informed by
Should these plans inform, or be informed by, the development requirements specified in the statutory development plan?
Both. As outlined in the consultation document, there should be links between community-led plans and the statutory development plan for that place. It is important that this exchange of knowledge and information about a place and the development priorities flows in both directions, informing and being informed by one another. This should be a dynamic, evolving process because development needs and perceptions of developers and communities change over time. The proposal to continue to build a culture of empowerment in planning is welcomed; however, this is often easier said than done. We would encourage the development of policies and guidance (as mentioned in 2.10) that clarifies how the preparation of local place plans would be coordinated and, particularly, how this would or could be translated into decision making processes and the implementation of these plans.

9(b). Does figure 1 cover all of the relevant considerations?

Please select one item
Ticked No
Does figure 1 cover all of the relevant considerations?
Figure 1 suggests that local place plans will not be adopted if they oppose the wider aims of the local development plan (bullet point three under ‘plan preparation’), which suggests that there has already been a decision made about 9a above – i.e. that local place plans should be informed by the development requirements specified in the statutory development plan. This seems to limit the scope and possibilities of a local place plan. It is important to carefully consider the term ‘community’ and how a ‘community group’ is defined. Research at the James Hutton Institute contributes to literature on inclusion, representation and participation in community groups and initiatives. The criteria for what constitutes a ‘community body’ will be difficult to define and the potential for conflict may be high if one community body is favoured over others (i.e. those endorsed by the local authority as mentioned in bullet point four under ‘pre-plan preparation’). We recommend that there be encouragement of an open invitation to all interested stakeholders to participate in the preparation of a local place plan. A charrette type model could provide a useful space/mechanism to elicit input from a variety of stakeholders in a supported and professionally facilitated process.

11. How can we ensure more people are involved?

How can we ensure more people are involved?
We agree with the recommendations of the independent review of the Scottish planning system that “digital innovation, such as the use of big data, specialist systems (such as for minerals and aggregates), Geographic Information Systems, and 3D visualisations, should be actively rolled out across all authorities. We strongly recommend that we start a co-ordinated investment in technology now to ensure we are responsive to future advances.” One aspect of increasing public involvement in planning was reported in research for the Scottish Government on the use of digital technology, reviewing the use of 3D visualisations, 3D modelling, and digital spatial data (James Hutton Institute, 2016; Two examples reported approaches to facilitate increased public involvement in planning: (i) The provision of easy to use tools which support increased access and understanding of plans and the issues they are seeking to address. An example was the Story Map by South Ayrshire Council (, also a case study in the consultation on the future of the Scottish planning system. Feedback from the local authority reported success in encouraging people to access the Local Development Plan (LDP). Evidence included increased traffic to the site with over 3 times the number of hits to the site in its first two months of its launch (4,500 views), compared to a 12 month period (1,500 views) of the previous online version of the LDP. (ii) The increased availability and use of novel tools which stimulate imagination and interest, and support the sharing of visions for future land use and development. An example of such a tool is a mobile virtual reality facility, tested by the James Hutton Institute under the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme. This has been used for involving younger people in developing content of Main Issues Statements, strategic visions of future land uses, and proposing remediating measures where appropriate ( Such approaches and tools can contribute to facilitating early engagement of public audiences in the planning process. As such data and tools evolve it would be desirable for consideration to be given to the preparation of guidelines on their use to ensure accuracy, credibility and understanding of limitations, as well as harnessing their benefits and positive impacts. Example relevant scientific literature: Wang, C., Miller, D.R., Brown, I., Jaing, Y. and Castellazzi, M. 2015. Visualisation techniques to support public interpretation of future climate change and land-use choices: a case study from N-E Scotland. International Journal of Digital Earth, Published online 17/11/2015.

11(a). Should planning authorities be required to use methods to support children and young people in planning?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
Should planning authorities be required to use methods to support children and young people in planning?
The future Scottish Planning System would benefit from reflecting the rapid pace of technological change, and the availability of data and capabilities of people of all ages, through the inclusion of involvement of younger people in planning. However, it would be more appropriate to encourage and facilitate such involvement rather than it being a requirement. Links between planning and teaching exist through the Curriculum of Excellence, directly or indirectly, with learning outcomes relating to challenges being addressed by planning (e.g. climate change, land use, biosphere, human and physical geography). Greater understanding of the role and principles of planning could be built into the school curriculum, and would help to deliver UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning). There is also a role for exploiting the uptake of new technologies in increasing engagement of young people in planning, a component of the digital transformation of planning (Proposal 20). For example, the increasing availability of retail digital tools such as headset virtual reality facilities and other spatial digital data (e.g. aerial imagery made available by web-based mapping) combined with innovative approaches to the provision of future scenarios of Scotland may provide means of generating interest and involving young people. This may take the form of raising awareness and enabling young people to explore narratives of alternative futures under different plans, or eliciting and submitting ideas for plans. The future Scottish Planning System should be stronger on recognising the possibilities that are likely to emerge within the expected lifespan of the revised planning arrangements.

16. What changes to the planning system are required to reflect the particular challenges and opportunities of island communities?

What changes to the planning system are required to reflect the particular challenges and opportunities of island communities?
We welcome the proposed flexibility to accommodate the specific conditions and challenges of planning in island contexts. Research at the James Hutton Institute highlights that the Western Isles and the outer isles of Orkney have notably low scores on a multivariate index of socio-economic performance ( This could be interpreted to argue for the need for affording significant flexibility to the planning system in such areas for supporting potential development. Particular emphasis could be placed on encouraging social innovation in support of community-led development.

Building more homes and delivering infrastructure

20. What are your views on greater use of zoning to support housing delivery?

What are your views on greater use of zoning to support housing delivery?
The Land Capability for Agriculture (LCA) system is an objective, spatial classification that ranks land on the basis of its potential productivity and cropping flexibility determined by the extent to which its physical characteristics (soil, climate and relief) impose long term restrictions on agricultural use. This programme was carried out in the 1980s, based on the systematic soil survey information, with publication of LCA maps at 1:50,000 scale for the main agricultural areas of Scotland, and has functioned as the standard reference tool for land quality in Scotland since that time. It has been used to support a general presumption against development on Prime Agricultural Land (Classes 1, 2 and 3 Division 1) unless such development is in the national interest. Since the classification was devised, the underlying principles and physical constraints of soils and topography have remained largely unchanged and this map series is still regarded by the Scottish Government as the standard reference benchmark for land assessment. Greater use could be made of this dataset for informing zoning housing delivery, as it not only presents a national overview but it helps in deciding upon local development issues. It is accessible online at, and information at the James Hutton Institute (

20(b). What needs to be done to help resource them?

what needs to be done to help resource them?
To resource the simplification of planning zones, and their wider use in Scotland, there is a need to ensure the provision and availability of spatial data at appropriate geographic scales that is contemporary in content and useable, typically in Geographic Information Systems. This would also be consistent with the recommendations of the independent review of the Scottish Planning System (2016), and the Digital Transformation in Planning envisaged in Proposal 20 of the Consultation. Underpinning the use of such spatial data by the public sector in Scotland is the One Scotland Mapping Agreement (OSMA) with Ordnance Survey and the associated financial arrangements. That ensures ease of access to authoritative, national datasets at appropriate geographic scales. The inclusion of contemporary aerial imagery within such an agreement has provided significant benefits for assessing current and recent land cover and uses. Maintaining such agreements, and the collective approach by the members of the OSMA, As indicated above, the Land Capability for Agriculture Classification provides a benchmark in the consideration of zoning and the development of spatial planning options, and is available through a web-mapping system supported by Scottish Government. The LCA is underpinned by a wide range of soils and environmental data and information supported by the Scottish Government (see Scotland’s Soils Website), at James Hutton Institute Where there are contentious issues relating to particular proposals, additional resources would be required to arbitrate via site inspections and larger-scale investigations to define land quality in greater detail. To ensure consistency and availability of such data in support of planning zones outwith existing urban areas there is an on-going need for the enhancement and upgrading of the digital soils data that support strategic and local planning and decision-making. Currently, this is supported by Scottish Government Underpinning Capacity funding.

22. Would the proposed arrangements for regional partnership working support better infrastructure planning and delivery?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
Would the proposed arrangements for regional partnership working support better infrastructure planning and delivery?
General Infrastructure planning should take into account climate change objectives as well as accessibility considerations, and should work to identify win-win situations, e.g. simultaneously reducing carbon, air pollution, traffic congestion and improving road safety. Transport infrastructure In the absence of strategic development plans careful attention should be given to the coordination of infrastructure planning at the city level so as not to lose the advantages of having an overarching strategic blueprint covering individual cities and regions. There is an opportunity to integrate infrastructure across regions. At the city level, solutions that improve on existing options might be preferred over large scale new builds. Key objectives could include: • Focusing on connections, infrastructure and linking hubs for modes of transport, rather than large projects for single transport modes. • Tackling deficiencies in infrastructure support for low-carbon travel options, e.g. cycle lanes, electric car changing points. • Encouraging different transport operators to work in partnership, e.g. single ticket solutions covering multiple transport operators and types. • Considering pricing and efficiency and options for public ownership or partnership solutions to promote public transport use as a means to tackle climate and air pollution problems. Example relevant scientific literature: Integrated solutions are necessary for urban transport, case of Aberdeen: Ge, Jiaqi and Polhill, J. Gary (2016) 'Exploring the Combined Effect of Factors Influencing Commuting Patterns and CO2 Emissions in Aberdeen Using an Agent-Based Model' Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 19 (3) 11 <>. doi: 10.18564/jasss.3078 High speed rail projects may not always reduce carbon emissions: Westin, J., & Kågeson, P. (2012). Can high speed rail offset its embedded emissions?. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 17(1), 1-7. Climate change mitigation in urban transport should benefit public health (win-win situations): Woodcock, J., Edwards, P., Tonne, C., Armstrong, B. G., Ashiru, O., Banister, D., ... & Franco, O. H. (2009). Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: urban land transport. The Lancet, 374(9705), 1930-1943. Governance and planning for electric vehicles: Nilsson, M., & Nykvist, B. (2016). Governing the electric vehicle transition–Near term interventions to support a green energy economy. Applied Energy, 179, 1360-1371. Ambitious emissions reductions in transport are achievable, but only if multiple factors are taken into account, like changes in travel behaviour, vehicles and fuels: Yang, C., McCollum, D., McCarthy, R., & Leighty, W. (2009). Meeting an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 2050: A case study in California. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 14(3), 147-156. The role of public transport companies in promoting sustainable transport strategies: Cruz, I. S., & Katz-Gerro, T. (2016). Urban public transport companies and strategies to promote sustainable consumption practices. Journal of Cleaner Production, 123, 28-33. Electricity infrastructure In line with general comments above, vulnerability of electricity supply is an important priority, but there are opportunities for win-win situations. Promoting local and community based low carbon energy projects reduces the vulnerability of communities to power outages and simultaneously contributes to tackling climate change. However, these initiatives require support such as enhancing community capacity and capability, which private sector infrastructure operators may not be able to provide without appropriate incentives. Example relevant scientific literature: Approaches to vulnerability of supply in Electricity Networks in Scotland: Hall, E., Connon, I., and Tholl, K. (2017) Transforming approaches to “vulnerability” in a large energy company – a Knowledge Transfer Partnership . Presentation given at Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience (CECHR) 2017 Symposium. Community renewable energy in Scotland: Harnmeijer, A., Harnmeijer, J., McEwen, N., & Bhopal, V. (2012). A report on community renewable energy in Scotland. SCENE Connect: Edinburgh. Engagement with electricity companies to manage the transition to low carbon energy: Creutin,J.D., Hewitt, R.J., Tøft, L., Ramos, M.H., and Borga, M. (2016) Chapter 3: Energy companies as key stakeholders. in: Winder,N., Liljenström,H., and Seaton, R. (Eds). COMPLEX Final Scientific Report, Volume 1 The Quest for a Model-Stakeholder Fusion. Sigtuna Foundation, p.64-102.

Stronger leadership and smarter resourcing

30. Do you agree that we should focus more on monitoring outcomes from planning (e.g. how places have changed)?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
(a) Do you have any ideas on how this could be achieved?
We agree with emphasis being placed on outcomes from planning. This will support attainment of the objective of ‘planning shaping the future of our places’. Opportunities could be sought to increase the cross-referencing of information, both quantitative and qualitative, on the extent to which the impacts of change (e.g. new build, renovation) deliver to the National Performance Framework or a related form of ‘impact assessment’. As areas are developed the context for planning will change. For example, at regional and local levels, increases in impermeable surfaces due to retail and industrial development may need to be balanced with improved drainage and possibly flood defence schemes. Such increases may increase pressure on existing drainage systems, potentially exacerbating flood risk in neighbouring areas also planned for development, thus changing the local context for a development plan. Similarly, the development of renewable energy will have cumulative impacts which can be expected to modify the context for future plans. So, it would be desirable to link the monitoring of outcomes to the monitoring of change (i.e. outputs), and provide feedback into a responsive Local Plan. Such an adaptive approach to planning and management would enable emerging issues to be addressed, including those which were unexpected. Mechanisms for consideration include the increased use of information technology in line with ‘the internet of things’ or ‘smart cities’, in which capabilities for measurement and monitoring is built in to physical infrastructure, and makes use of data gathered by people. This is the focus of significant areas of European Union research through the Horizon 2020 Programme on Green Infrastructure, Nature-based Solutions, and Smart Cities. In such developments, clear ethical considerations need to be addressed. Outputs are providing information about environmental factors (e.g. air, water and soil quality, waste), and human behaviour around built and peri-urban areas. Tools which support such monitoring are anticipated to become common place in the coming decade, and could form part of the feedback loop of adaptive management of which transformations of planning would have to be a key part. Extensive investment is made into the collection, evaluation and interpretation of information about environmental and socio-economic change in Scotland. Existing institutions, such as the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), draw on such information and make recommendations to Scottish Government. The evidence base compiled is extensive and detailed for national and regional planning, and provides a context for local planning. For example, in 2016 the CCC published their assessment of the Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Plan (SCCAP). Evidence was drawn from existing outputs from across academic organisations such as Scotland’s universities, the James Hutton Institute, and a central role of the Scottish Government Centres of Expertise on Climate Change and Waters. Evidence on themes such as Natural Environment, and Buildings and Infrastructure Networks is all of relevance to planning policy and delivery, including peatlands (Indicator NB22), changes in impermeable surfaces (BB13), natural flood management, and soil carbon concentrations (NA11). Greater use of such data either directly, or brokered by existing if new intermediary organisations, could be valuable in assessing the impacts made by planning, articulated with respect to the outcomes intended.

34. What scope is there for digitally enabling the transformation of the planning service around the user need?

What scope is there for digitally enabling the transformation of the planning service around the user need?
Recent research by the James Hutton Institute, commissioned by the Scottish Government, reviewed the potential for how digital imagery and 3D visualisations could inform decision-making, and how the associated technology can improve community engagement, understanding and acceptance of development proposals at different stages in the planning process (James Hutton Institute, 2016. Use of Digital and 3D Visualisation Technology in Planning For New Development). This identified significant current and emerging developments in terms of digital spatial data, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and 3D modelling which were already being used in planning processes, and probable acceleration in technological advances. A summary of recommendations from that report follows: 1. Developing standards for the use of digital imagery, 3D visualisations and models within the planning process. These should include the nature of the metadata required for 3D data and visual imagery, requirements for enabling the transfer of 3D data between stakeholders (e.g. developer, planning teams at local and national levels, local communities) to ensure consistency in representation of a development, and avoid duplication of effort by developer and planning team. 2. Identification of most effective access to data and tools for generating 3D visualisations by all relevant types of stakeholder. This would include the types of training in the use of 3D imagery, tools for its creation, inequalities of access to relevant data and tools (e.g. socio-economic and geographic), sources of relevant 3D tools currently used in the planning process and how they could be publicised and exploited more effectively. 3. Consideration of how to improve and broaden access to digital spatial data of relevance to different stages in the planning process, its maintenance and update cycles. 4. Identification of limitations to the effective use of mobile tools which can generate or use digital imagery and 3D visualisations. Such limitations may be infrastructural (e.g. gaps in coverage of mobile data communications of appropriate high speeds), or social (e.g. lack of access to contemporary mobile technologies across all groups in society). 5. Coordination of a series of events on existing digital imagery, tools and approaches to 3D visualisation used in planning in Scotland, and emerging tools (e.g. virtual reality, citizen science). Such events would target civic society and communities; local authorities, Scottish Government and public agencies; and, developers and consultants. Content consistent to each could include digital imagery, tools and communication media, but tailored to suit each type of audience (e.g. CPD for RTPI where appropriate) and could follow models such as that of the SNH series on Sharing Good Practice.