Transforming Places Together: digital strategy for planning

This strategy defines a long-term strategic direction for how Scotland’s planning system will digitally transform, embracing the opportunities new digital technologies and data present. It sets out what we intend to deliver, why this is needed and the benefits this transformation will bring.

Ministerial Foreword

A planning system for the future

As Scotland’s Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, I have seen first-hand how the planning sector has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by adapting to new systems and ways of working.

The Planning profession has been using digital systems and technology to keep the system operating at a time that has proven difficult for all of us. The resilience shown is inspirational and illustrates the commitment and resolve we all have to making Scotland a great place to live, work and play no matter the adverse circumstances we may face.

As we begin to stabilise and recover both socially and economically, a resilient and efficient planning system designed to meet the needs of people will be more important than ever. We need to give communities easier ways to engage with a system that can often prove challenging to navigate and understand. We need to give planning authorities the tools to create and shape their places. And we need to give developers confidence and certainty that Scotland is open for business.

Planning should be inspirational and influential. It shapes how we go about our business and live our lives. It helps to keep the economy growing, enables us to protect our natural and built environment, and also to deliver development in the right places. The work we are delivering to reform the planning system has created a strong legislative foundation that will help us make some vital choices about the future of our places. Now it’s time to change how we work and operate.

Over the last two years, we’ve been talking to those that work across the whole planning sector, those that regularly interact with it, as well as those in communities with interests in planning and place. We’ve listened and have heard about the issues that many experience in planning, about what works well and what could work better, and the opportunities that a digital transformation programme could deliver. This strategy is the vital next step forward and I am delighted that Scotland is one of the first countries to have a national sector wide Digital Strategy for Planning, supported by the commitment to deliver the priorities outlined within this document.

This next step will set the framework for long-lasting change and improvement, putting data and technology at the heart of a planning system designed for the future.

The contents of this Strategy are ambitious and will require collaboration across the planning sector and beyond to shape and implement new systems and ways of working. I am confident that by working together we will achieve the missions set out in this strategy.

“It is time to create the environment that empowers planners to do what they do best – deliver great places which make Scotland a great country.”

Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning



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