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Planning Review: Analysis of Position Statement Responses

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1 Introduction

The Scottish Government undertook consultation on its Planning Review Document Places, People and Planning (PP&P) in the first quarter of 2017. Following analysis of the responses, the Scottish Government issued a Position Statement on June 2017, with a consultation closing date of 11 August 2017.

This was one of a series of documents that built upon an earlier consultation in late 2015, and subsequent Analysis of Evidence in March 2016. These included:

  • the report produced by the Independent Review Panel, "Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places",
  • the Ministerial response to the Review Panel report, dated July 2016 and
  • the formal consultation paper "Place, People and Planning "published on 10 January 2017

The Position Statement consultation received 122 responses. Kevin Murray Associates has been appointed to undertake the analysis of the consultation responses that were submitted, and will produce a full report for the Scottish Government that will provide
(a) a profile of respondents,
(b) a set of summary papers on each of the four themes with key and recurring issues and solutions.

This analysis process uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative analysis as appropriate.

The Position Statement follows the previous format and is organised into the four main themes, with proposals contained within each theme. In all, there are 20 proposals. Contained within the consultation document, there are four questions, one related to the 20 proposals within the position statement (this question was of most interest to the majority of respondents) and three questions regarding the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).

At the outset, it was recognised in the responses to the consultation that this is a vast, important, and very timely piece of work. There was a significant level of interest and engagement by planning and policy and development industry professionals, including representations from professional bodies that had been prepared after significant consultation with their memberships. Remarkably, in contrast with the previous consultation where around 57% contributions were received from civil society respondents, the number of contributions was 39.3% with fewer from the A1-Unaffiliated individual. It was clear that there is no singular view of the Scottish planning system – there is a broad range of views and opinions, even within sectoral responses.

Reporting the Analysis

This analysis process has considered each of the 122 responses. Many of the individual responses examined parts (and sometimes the whole) of the Position Statement in detail.

The purpose of this report is primarily to aid the Scottish Government in moving forward with their work. Therefore, our analysis has sought to draw out the major areas of agreement and concern from across the full body of evidence, and for this analysis areas in which more information or clarity was requested. Whilst all responses have been considered, it has not been realistic to set out the qualitative content of every single response in equal detail, because of the volume and length of report that would ensue.

The principle of 'inclusion', respecting all the submissions equally without bias, has informed our analysis throughout and how we have then reported the analysis. Frequent discussions allowed the team to identify whether there were occasions where over-emphasis of an issue or sector was introducing bias or distorting reporting. We hope we have succeeded in this.

How to read this report

The report is structured in the first instance to aid the Scottish Government in understanding the consultation responses. It is organised around the Government's four key themes and sets out under each proposal where the key areas of agreement or concern lie. This is followed by an overview of the responses by category. Every effort has been taken to present the voice of the respondents neutrally and to achieve an objective analysis of the evidence, rather than engage in detailed interpretation. However, this concise report cannot do justice to the full richness of opinions, qualifications and nuances expressed, nor to their inevitable tensions and contradictions. To give a sense of this complexity, we provide a broad frequency of response by sector. However, even by doing this, there is an inevitable 'degree of over-simplification' of the data through such selection and representation.

In our approach, we have been interested in the nature of issues, ideas and arguments presented rather than simply their frequency of occurrence, as some individual responses are the result of the inputs of many participants.

The report identifies the participant sector from which issues and ideas/proposals were generated within each key theme. This remains largely qualitative, and we have not attempted to attach detailed quantitative data to these statements because:

  • First, every submission has been given an initial equal weighting, allowing every idea presented to be considered equally.
  • Second, while the frequency of an idea may be suggestive of 'weight,' it became clear this might not be the case. For example, one idea could be proposed by 30 Group A1 "individuals", while another could be mentioned once by a Group B1 professional body with 100 members who have produced a collaborative response. We have taken the view that while both ideas have validity, undue consideration should not be given to an idea solely based on frequency.

The next section explains the research methods used.