WE have an important role in the planning system. We see the Planning Bill as an opportunity to put communities at the heart of planning through ensuring that they are engaged early and meaningfully.

Our vision is for a system that is inclusive, respected, ambitious, holistic and works in the public interest. We want to empower communities so that they can influence how their place changes over time with a planning system that fosters participation, collaboration and co-production.

We believe the Planning Bill provides the opportunity to do this. Introducing well-resourced local place plans, prepared by communities, can foster a transparent dialogue about planning at the local level. The bill can usher in new ways of involving young people and ensure communities are at the heart of creating development plans. This will help us move from the present situation where the main motivation for people to engage with the planning system is to say what they don’t want.

Introducing a third party or “equal” right of appeal will not support these ambitions. We believe it will lead to more local decisions being made by government at a time when we want to give communities more say over the places where they live; open the door for competing commercial interests to frustrate development and potentially to pit one part of a community against another; clog up the planning system at a time when planning departments are under severe resourcing pressures; undermine democratically elected planning authorities’ responsibility to ensure planning decisions are taken locally in the public interest; weaken constructive early engagement; and further widen inequality in our communities by disproportionally favouring those with the capacity, time and resources to pursue an appeal. It could also mean that seldom-heard voices in the planning system may be further marginalised.

We are of the view that “equalising” appeal rights by removing or reducing the applicant right of appeal would be a mistake. Enhancing public trust in planning must be a priority and should be done through a positive and proactive approach to supporting communities to engage with the planning system; not with a new right of appeal that only entrenches confrontation.

Fraser Carlin, Convenor,

Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland, 18 Atholl Crescent,


Iain McDiarmid, Chair, Heads of Planning Scotland

Tammy Swift-Adams, Director of Planning, Homes for Scotland

Sara Thiam, Regional Director, Institution of Civil Engineers Scotland

Stewart Henderson, President, Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland

Gail Hunter, Regional Director, Scotland, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Graham Boyack, Director, Scottish Mediation

David Melhuish, Director, Scottish Property Federation

Phil Prentice, Chief Officer, Scotland’s Towns Partnership

Petra Biberbach, Chief Executive, PAS.