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Four ways planning can improve wellbeing across Scotland


Planning’s well-evidenced impact on the creation of successful places contributes to the National Performance Framework ask to improve physical and mental wellbeing.


However, planning’s contribution is limited by budget cuts reducing the number of planners, regulatory duties that need streamlined and insufficient corporate recognition of its enabling purpose.


These and other findings are contained in the Planning Round Table Report published jointly by Audit Scotland and the Improvement Service.


The Round Table reviewed the impact on a service area experiencing both budget cuts and external pressures from policy and legislation. Key stakeholders discussed how they are responding in terms of transforming what they do.


Representatives from Heads of Planning, COSLA, SOLACE, Scottish Government, Key Agencies and the Royal Town Planning Institute focused in on three key areas:


  • Repositioning planning: the purpose of planning and place in delivering public health priorities and community planning outcomes.
  • Streamlining planning: the intention behind reviewing the planning system and impact as it progresses.
  • Resourcing planning: impacts of budget cuts on the added value of planning.


Key Themes


Co-chaired by Audit Scotland and the Improvement Service, four key themes emerged:


Theme 1: Regulator to Enabler

Planning should widen its enabling role to deliver on the National Performance Framework’s focus on increased wellbeing. Change should be achieved through increased resourcing, new performance measures and culture change.


Theme 2: Transforming the service to an outcome rather than process focus

The additional duties in the current Planning Bill will make delivery of outcomes more difficult. There is a need to streamline legislative requirements now and focus on enabling outcomes during secondary legislation and national policy formulation.


Theme 3: Improving the profile of the value of planning

There is a need to communicate planning’s the scale of influence and added value in meeting corporate and national outcomes.


Theme 4: Resourcing

Planning needs increased investment and reduced regulatory workload burdens to undertake its full enabling role. The planning service needs to proactively lead a balanced solution to cost recovery and resourcing its enabling role.


What next?


Moving forward Audit Scotland will explore the positioning of the service as an enabler and the need for outcome-based measures in the Local Government Overview 2020.


The Improvement Service will support Scotland’s planning services and Heads of Planning in delivering the change that sits within the key themes.


More information


Download the Planning Round Table Report


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