The Royal Town Planning Institute in Scotland

Convenerís message

24 November 2008


Iím optimistic.John Swinney has renewed the Scottish Governmentís vows on planning reform. On 28 October lots of the key players Ėincluding RTPI in Scotland- bound themselves in to a planning summit document. Itís worth a careful look. Some of the nuances are different now, and thatís just as it should be.Itís reassuring to have an up-to-date perspective on planning from Government acknowledging that changes have been happening in the world economy.Someone on the bridge is paying attention, and the reform package is adjusted accordingly, not left to drift while political focus moves elsewhere.


Planning Aid in Scotland regularly emphasizes its non-campaigning stance, so its omission from the summit stakeholder signatories may not be surprising.But PAS has something good to offer in SP=EED published three weeks before the summit. SP=EED stands for Scottish Planning = Effective Engagement and Delivery and itís a practical guide to better public engagement in development planning and development management.We have to be practical, and, as always, we have to be proportionate. You can download the guide from Planning Aid Scotlandís publications webpage.††


Iíve just chaired a couple of conferences sessions packed with ideas. MacKay Hannahís ten-speaker event on strategic development, growth and the economic challenge brought together Greg Lloyd, Vincent Goodstadt, Grahame Buchan, Ann Faulds, Tom Buchanan and Russell Imrie.A few days later our own busy annual conference got to grips with the spatial dimensions of climate change, with fourteen speakers giving a range of government, national agency, consultancy, community and Institute perspectives. Check out the practical details:John Ferguson of SEPA in particular raised our sights to the local planning and business opportunities of energy from waste.


A few days after that, John Swinney led the BIDS conference at Stirling University on vital and vibrant town centres: ďthe beating heart of our communitiesĒ. 180 people from commerce and communities all over Scotland.Hard times certainly draw people together to kindle and cradle the flame of sustainable economic development in the centres they share, and there was a palpable determination to keep faith with long term ideals and work hard to make places more attractive, making full use of local identity and the arts, as Hubert Kearnsí Sligo presentation vividly showed. Details are on the new Scotlandís Towns website.


A third year student project to accelerate regeneration in Dundeeís Hilltown was handed in on the same day as the BIDS conference, and I for one look forward to study all the ideas theyíve come up with.Iím not one to think we wait for higher authority to decide, or for the world economy to resolve itself, before we can act. Of course itís encouraging to have warm Ministerial attention, sensible signs and portents in the NPF, some reforms and adjustments from above. Even a little moonshine.But we need to look to our own local space. We have to find whatever is at our own hand to nurture the development of green shoots in our own places and thereby encourage the wider global family. Itís a thread that runs from Patrick Geddes and Thomas Adams to Mel Young and his Homeless World Cup.By leaves we live. By living we learn.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† -Roger Kelly


Roger Kellyís planning website is at


Roger Kelly convened the Royal Town Planning Instituteís Scottish Executive throughout 2008.

This message appeared in the December edition of the Scottish Planner


previous messages: October 2008August 2008June 2008April 2008January 2008

Review of the year 2008

Roger Kelly on the context of planning reform June 2009