Peter Hutchinson, SNH’s Supporting Good Development Activity Lead, explains our new approach to engaging in the Planning System.
When it comes to planning, it’s good to talk – and the earlier the better. Sharing ideas, considering the benefits of nature, being visionary about ‘place’ and helping to find solutions, is the thinking behind our new approach to engaging in the planning system.
After listening to our customers, considering the direction of regulatory and planning reforms, and reflecting on the need align our work to the whole of the government’s programme, we have recently launched Planning for Great Places – a new service statement to strengthen the connection between people, development and nature.
Our aim is to be more active in helping to make Scotland the best place to live, work, visit and do business. We want to focus our efforts on:
- early and upstream engagement in the planning system
- stronger working with business interests
- clearer advice that is alert to other interests
This is fine in theory, but what will it mean in practice? Our new approach has four key priorities:
First, sharing knowledge about Scotland’s nature – we want to help others see and understand the benefits nature gives us all and how our natural assets can be part of developments. Our Sharing Good Practice programme has proved to be a good start, but we want to do more. We want to develop good practice with the people who make our great places: for example, working with the Civil Engineering Contractors Association and supporting their recently established environmental forum.
Second, investing in nature – we want to work with business interests, such as City Deals and housing sector partnerships to help them invest in nature. We want to help them maximise the competitive advantage from our nature. As recently illustrated by the tourism book, The Rough Guide, promoting Scotland as the most beautiful country in the world, our nature is pretty special! It supports a range of social and economic benefits – from jobs to climate change to people’s wellbeing.
Third, supporting plan and place making – we want to continue to work with planners, other key agencies, communities, developers and others to support a plan-led approach to delivering development. We want to work together to plan how best to use nature. A good example of the sort of approach we want is the Midlothian Green Network map which carefully planned active travel routes and other green networks.
And fourth, providing advice that enables good development. We want to help achieve the right development in the right place. And for this, we want to help make any development as good as it possibly can. We want to talk to development interests as early as possible, whether individually or through sector or industry groups.
Collectively, and by working in an inclusive and engaging way, we hope that these priorities will help planning for great places – connecting people and nature and supporting good development.
If you would like to keep in touch with our work to help Planning for Great Places, please sign up for updates via our twice-yearly Planning Bulletin sign-up form.