Regional Land Use Partnerships: phase 1 process evaluation - final report

The Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs) evaluation report considers the lessons learned from the Year 1 (2021 to 2022) pilot process. The report was completed by SAC Consulting and outlines key early findings from RLUP pilot establishment.

1. Executive Summary

a. Purpose of this process evaluation

The purpose of this evaluation is to provide evidence from Phase 1 (Year 1) of the RLUP pilot process (2021-2022) to assist Scottish Ministers in their consideration of wider rollout of RLUPs from 2023. Scottish Ministers’ success criteria for the pilots, as outlined in the Bute House Agreement (BHA), include meeting expectations relating to:

  • Adoption of a natural capital approach
  • Production of RLUFs which can meet national and regional priorities
  • Maximise influence in engaging regional stakeholders
  • Taking a democratic, inclusive, local approach to decision-making

The BHA was published in August 2021 and outlines Ministers’ expectations. The RLUPs process is being evaluated based on the Phase 1 milestones, agreed through the grant award process, which include establishment of a board structure and completion of a Stakeholder Engagement Strategy by the end of March 2022.

Considering the widening use of the Place Principle throughout Scottish Government policy, this RLUPs process evaluation provides a key opportunity for learning how to implement regional priorities using local engagement. In addition to determining the factors influencing the achievement of these intended outcomes, this evaluation also seeks to determine the lessons learned from the pilot process. Specifically, the evaluation findings will help identify improvement opportunities, show how context influenced delivery, and inform future decisions relating to RLUPs.

b. Key findings of this evaluation

The high expectations and anticipation that surround the RLUP pilots, cited by several pilots in interviews, indicate that this is a policy mechanism which is seen by many stakeholders as necessary. The advantages of regional level working to address and integrate local and national goals are clear to those involved in the process. The results of this evaluation align with these expectations; given sufficient time and resource to troubleshoot the barriers collated in this report, the evidence suggests that RLUP pilots can be successful in delivering their goals as set out by Scottish Ministers. The regional teams leading the pilots have already benefitted from the space created by the RLUP pilots to form new connections across organisations and think strategically within their areas.

List 1b: Key findings overview
  • High expectations and progress to date point to promising future for RLUPs
  • Many pilots benefitting from new connections across teams already
  • Difficult to ask institutions to take reputational risk to pilot a new approach
  • Pilots impeded by uncertainty (funding, specification, and future development)

The central barriers that stand in the way of the RLUP pilots at present relate to the practicalities of taking a pilot approach to trialling this policy mechanism. All pilots have struggled with some form of uncertainty in developing their nascent partnerships. The freedom for each pilot region to take their own approach has created uncertainty around what is being asked in terms of partnership establishment. As a result, pilots were hesitant to commit their limited resources to plans they were unsure would meet expectations. Uncertainty regarding the future of the RLUP pilots (specifically around pilot funding/budgets, whether they will develop into permanent partnerships, and what the powers of those partnerships might be) has made it difficult to engage stakeholders in the process and has affected all Phase 1 work streams and outcomes.

This evaluation considers Phase 1 of the RLUP pilot establishment, however it is highlighted that the pilots have not had a full year to progress their partnerships due to the delayed timings of start-up processes including getting staff in place and agreeing terms of reference between participating groups. The data collection process of this evaluation occurred in January and February 2022, before the planned end of Phase 1. This evaluation provides a useful checkpoint, capturing early insight into the process of establishing these pilots and draws evidence-based conclusions for RLUPs both now and in the future.



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