Monitoring the outcomes of planning: a research study

Discusses issues related to performance management and informs future work on developing new approaches to assessing performance in the planning system.

2. Methodology and work programme

2.1 The brief is challenging but focused, with the emphasis on monitoring the outcomes of planning. However, outcome monitoring is only one-element of a broader performance management framework ( PMF) for the Scottish planning system. The development of a comprehensive PMF is beyond the scope of the present study, but it is not possible to explore the specific challenges of outcome monitoring unless we have some sort of understanding of the bigger picture, including:

  • the purpose of the planning system
  • what success looks like, and how it might be measured
  • the use of the development management process to achieve the desired results
  • looking beyond outcomes to assess the long-term, cumulative impacts of planning
  • how lessons learned from monitoring and evaluation can be shared, disseminated and fed back into the development of policy.

2.2 The emphasis of the current performance management system for planning in Scotland is on monitoring the development management process. The Planning Performance Framework, introduced in 2011, focuses on policy development, development management and short term outputs. Our research has revealed a clear consensus that a shift towards monitoring the medium-term outcomes and longer-term impacts of planning will require new policies, new ways of working and a change in the planning culture. It is widely regarded as a positive step which would align performance management with public expectations of the planning system rather than the "insider" view of the present system. It is also in line with the call in the New Urban Agenda (United Nations, 2017) for "reinvigorating…urban and territorial planning and design in order to optimize the spatial dimension of the urban form and deliver the positive outcomes of urbanization".

2.3 This report will inform the development and implementation of a comprehensive PMF for the Scottish planning system. Expanding the existing Planning Performance Framework to include monitoring of outcomes is a practical first step towards wholesale reform, and, as required by the brief, this report focuses on this key element of the PMF, setting out proposed indicators and methodologies for gathering key data.

2.4 As shown in Figure 2-1 our methodology has comprised four work streams:

  • stakeholder engagement: one-to-one and small group meetings with a number of key stakeholders ( Annex 3) and a half day workshop
  • desk research including a review of relevant policy documents and a literature review (see Annex 2 for bibliography)
  • synthesis: developing and testing a working proposition and preparing a draft performance management model
  • reporting: we prepared an interim report which was issued in advance of the workshop; following the workshop we prepared the final report.

Figure 2-1: Work programme – key stages

Figure 2-1: Work programme – key stages


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