Better use of "Tools for Making Better Places"

Scottish Planning Policy sets a positive agenda for placemaking and outlines the “Tools for Making Better Places” in paragraph 57. If sharply focussed on key issues, opportunities and pragmatic and realistic development needs these tools can help set an agenda for achieving positive planning and placemaking outcomes.

However, the use of such tools in Scotland is extremely limited. Key opportunities to raise the standards of development, specific to local places and landscapes are therefore being missed.

Much of the missed opportunity appears due to a lack of Local Authority expertise, time constraints and staff resources during plan preparation. Other factors of influence however (and these issues need explored further) include developers “jumping the gun”; bidding for sites and submitting applications before planning requirements are established through the final stages of the plan formation process. Additionally, in some circumstances Local Authorities over work such design tools, do not engage stakeholders in the work (beyond formal consultations) and put too many requirements on development, often over-complicating the content of briefs.

As a solution, stronger support should be given to Local Authorities to enable them to produce better plans with simple, sharply focussed briefs and frameworks. The “how to” aspect of such work could be explained by worked examples of good practice, while the expertise could be further enhanced by place-making experts from the public sector working hands on and in-house with Local Authority colleagues. On large and/or complex sites, briefs and frameworks should be developed with input from the development industry and other stakeholders through charrette style working.

Local Authorities should also be required or encouraged to extend the use of such design tools to cover most sites allocated within an LDP (rather than just a few sites) with consultation on draft briefs and frameworks taking place at the Proposed Plan stage or earlier.

 

Why the contribution is important

I have taken informal soundings on this issue with a range of public and private sector interests. Both the housing industry and the public sector agree that if realistically defined, such work will lead to better standards of placemaking and development delivery.

by Anonymous on February 29, 2016 at 05:24PM

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Comments

  • Posted by EdgeOfCentre February 29, 2016 at 20:08

    Good idea but I get the impression planning departments don't have the resource for this type of 'non-statutory' engagement with the focus on the statutory processes of planning applications and the local plan.
  • Posted by Redfox February 29, 2016 at 21:11

    There is so much guidance on Placemaking but so little understanding of how to achieve it. An honest review of what has actually been developed amd accords with the guidance on place and streets would be a good way to understand what the issues/solutions are. If we did an honest review of new housing development would 5 percent achieve what the guidance seeks to deliver?
    Briefs are a great tool but may need to be delivered in collaboration as authorities have limited resources to even obtain all the necessary background and constraints information. Where there is collobaration between developers and planning authorities there is always criticism from the communities. Meaning for collaboration with communities can unlock this problem and may be one way to deliver great places.
  • Posted by Anonymous February 29, 2016 at 21:57

    Redfox- agree. Collaboration is key and can aid delivery. That collaboration can take on many forms depending on circumstances. For example, with relevant internal departments, with agencies, with developers or communities.

    Edge of Centre. It's tough for many Authorities I agree but many lack basic confidence to undertake such tasks. Simple, replicable (collaborative) processes that deliver simple, clear briefs could build confidence and speed delivery of briefs and frameworks. We have worked with Authorities in this capacity, agreeing 4 or 5 draft briefs in a day. The task becomes a realistic proposition if you can bring the right skills and work ethic. A few worked examples may also help communicate that an effective brief/design framework doesn't have to be a complicated thing.
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