Places, People and Planning consultation: Scottish Ministers' position statement

Ministerial response to the views expressed on the proposals set out in the Places, People and Planning consultation.


The independent review of the planning system reported in May 2016. In January 2017 we published Places, People and Planning, setting out an integrated package of proposed improvements to planning. Consultation on these proposals closed on 4 April 2017. An independent analysis of views on the proposals has since been undertaken and a report has now been published.

The Scottish Government has committed to bring forward a Planning Bill early in this Parliamentary session. The Bill is an important element in a wider programme of work aiming to strengthen planning's contribution to inclusive growth and empowering our communities. Taking into account the wide range of views on the proposals, this statement describes the key changes that Scottish Ministers are now considering taking forward through the forthcoming Planning Bill, secondary legislation under existing powers, and other, non-statutory approaches. No final decisions have been made on the content of legislation at this stage.

Planning in a changing world

Scotland's planning system operates within a complex and changing context. Our current system has many strengths and there are examples of good practice across the country. Nevertheless, we need to ensure that the system works more effectively to support delivery of development, inclusive growth and quality of place. People are at the heart of the system and it must work effectively in all our interests.

Shared priorities of inclusive growth and community empowerment will continue to underpin this programme of reform. The Enterprise and Skills Review and the emerging update of the National Transport Strategy and Strategic Transport Projects Review have helped to shape our proposals. Providing more good quality homes is a high priority for this Government, and we must enable different approaches to delivering the housing we need now and in the future. Alignment and closer integration of planning with community planning can and should help to improve outcomes for communities. It is important that people have a say in the changes that affect their places and, equally, we must also be able deliver the inclusive growth that our economy requires and the housing that current and future generations need.

We need a more responsive and flexible approach to planning in Scotland. To fully realise a more enabling role for planning, our current system needs to change. We are aiming to streamline processes whilst encouraging appropriate engagement and collaboration. Legislative change will take some time to take effect, and needs to be accompanied by early actions supporting inclusive growth priorities. We need to have the leadership, skills, resources, and partnerships to proactively and consistently support development, investment and quality of place across the country.

We must keep in view the core purpose of planning. The quality of the places where we live and work can support health and wellbeing, help to overcome inequality, create jobs and stimulate investment whilst ensuring that we minimise and adapt to the long term impacts of climate change. A stronger focus on planning and place can add value to all areas of policy making. A joined up approach to place-making by all public bodies, communities and businesses can generate efficiencies and ensure good outcomes from policies and decisions. By bringing people together and looking at places 'in the round', planning is uniquely well placed to make these connections so that we respect, enhance and sustainably use Scotland's many assets. Central to this can be the alignment of community and spatial planning and the contribution which planning can make to reducing inequality by supporting inclusive growth.

Working together to improve the system

We are committed to change which reflects the varied needs of all people. We will support changes that improve performance, that strengthen inclusive growth, that focus on outcomes and improve the engagement of people in the system. There is wide support for a plan-led system. The certainty that a strong and inclusive spatial plan can bring is important for communities and investors alike.

People make the system work. Whilst we can change the system, it is clear that success will also depend on fresh thinking, different mindsets, and a willingness to work with, and listen to the views of others. The consultation responses and recent research have shown the importance of this, with many of those involved in planning expressing contradictory views and highlighting a continuing lack of trust in the current system. Whilst differences in opinion on planning are inevitable, in time we must all move beyond our differences to support the implementation of a new planning system together. We will continue to work closely with a wide range of different interests as we take forward our proposals for change over the coming months.

Our current position on proposed technical changes

Places, People and Planning set out 20 proposals for change. Having initially considered the responses to the consultation, as well as ongoing research and analysis, our current position on these proposals is set out below. Given the breadth and depth of views we have received, our consideration of consultation responses is ongoing. The changes set out below focus on technical matters and future legislative amendments, but this forms part of a much wider programme of reform and behavioural change in planning.


Email: Chris Sinclair,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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