• Planning Skills Programme

    The Planning Skills Programme shares the skills, knowledge and behaviours to maximise planning's proactive contribution to delivering the type of places in which people can thrive.


    We work with local authorities, Heads of Planning Scotland, Scottish Government, key agencies, the RTPI and other stakeholders to deliver and co-ordinate the following:


    • the Planning Skills Series delivers collaborative and cost effective events to support skills development;
    • the Planning Skills Calendar signposts a broad selection of future learning and development events from a range of providers across Scotland; and
    • Information for Elected Members on the Scottish planning system and the work of the Key Agencies.


    Download a list of Planning Skills member organisations.


    If you have any questions or would like to share learning opportunities or needs, contact Irene Beautyman or Trevor Moffat. To keep up to date with Planning Skills events and programme developments, join our mailing list.


    Places, People and Planning: A consultation on the future of the Scottish planning system


    A review of Scotland’s planning system was launched in 2015. An independent panel reviewed the system and made a number of recommendations. There have been two rounds of consultation: Places, People and Planning – published in January – and an updated position statement in June.


    Scottish Government's proposed legislative changes to the planning system were subsequently published in the Planning (Scotland) Bill at the end of 2017. The Bill now sits with the Scottish Parliament for debate and scrutiny with MSPs expected to vote on it before the summer recess. A Call for Evidence to input into this process has been issues with responses due by 2 February 2018.


    The initial consultation highlighted that not all of the change required to reform planning could be legislated for. It requires behavioural changes from those involved in the planning process if it is to nurture places and guide future change so that it benefits everyone.


    The Planning Skills Programme has an important contribution to make in developing and sharing the required skills, knowledge and behaviour. We are working closely with the Scottish Planning Skills Forum which informed the RTPI research paper 'Developing Skills, Behaviours and Knowledge to Deliver Outcomes' on mainstreaming the changes that sit beside the legislation.

  • Planning Skills Series

    The Planning Skills Series supports the learning and development needs of our members through a series of events, webinars and recorded training sessions. Members are fully involved in determining priority development needs and how best to meet those needs through on-going dialogue and support.


    Scottish Government aspirations for a more "visionary profession" within planning (Places, People and Planning) looks to culture change and improvements to current practice as key contributors to planning realising its full potential. In response, it is felt that the Planning Skills Series should develop to include:


    • the promotion of more collaborative learning with other sectors and agencies, and
    • lead practice across Scotland as a key element for more experiential learning.


    This is reflected in the ongoing Planning Skills Series events that examine where lead practice on collaborative working is already taking place".


    • West Dunbartonshire is looking to improve the quality of its new places through the introduction of a Design Forum, and
    • City of Edinburgh Council is developing a more in-depth understanding of local government finance to enable delivery of their Local Development Plan


    Summaries and videos from these events and our mainstream training are available below.


    Members are encouraged to contribute thoughts to these or future topics.

    Click for a summary of the event 'The Tools for Making Successful Places'Click for a summary of the event 'Streamlining Development Management'
    Click for a summary of the event 'Funding the Infrastructure Gap: Local Government Finance and Local Development Plans'
  • Planning Skills Calendar

    The Improvement Service seeks to ensure that the information published this events listing is up to date and accurate. However, the content of this events listing does not constitute legal or professional advice and the Improvement Service cannot accept any liability for actions arising from its use. The Improvement Service cannot be held responsible for the contents or the quality of any external events referenced by an external link.

  • Information for Elected Members

    Information about the planning system written specifically for elected members is available.


    The Planning System in Scotland: an Introduction for Elected Members is a 30-page brochure covering the fundamentals of the planning system and the role of elected members.

    Christina Cox, planning and building standards manager at Stirling Council presents an overview of the Guide for Elected Members. The presentation given is followed by a Q+A session with current elected members.

    Key Agencies

    Information on the Key Agencies, specifically for elected members, has been prepared by the Key Agencies Group working with COSLA and the Improvement Service. The video below provides an overview of the role of the Key Agencies Group. There are also FAQs and information sheets on each of the agencies: Architecture + Design Scotland; Historic Scotland; SEPA; Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Water; and Transport Scotland.

    Video: Supporting Place Leaders - The Role of the Key Agencies Group


    Other resources

    Positive engagement: a guide for councillors - 2-page leaflet

    Local Review Bodies fact sheet - provides key information on LRBs for elected members

    Good practice for Local Review Bodies - advice published by the Scottish Government

    Councillor's guide to urban design - development by CABE for elected members in England

    Councillors' Code of Conduct



    Politicians in Planning Network

    RTPI Scotland

  • Useful Links

    Organisations and Agencies


    Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)

    SNH is responsible for the conservation and enhancement of natural heritage - the wildlife, the habitats and the landscapes.


    Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

    Historic Environment Scotland safeguards the historic environment and promotes its understanding and enjoyment.


    Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

    SEPA is Scotland’s environmental regulator and adviser. In addition to its role in controlling pollution, it works with others to protect and improve our environment.


    Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

    HSE protects people’s health and safety by ensuring that risks in the workplace are properly controlled and controls substances that are hazardous to health.


    Scottish Water

    Scottish Water provides water and waste water services throughout Scotland.


    Transport Scotland

    Transport Scotland is responsible for delivering the Scottish Government’s transport capital investment programme and overseeing the safe and efficient operation of trunk roads and rail networks.


    Architecture and Design Scotland (A+DS)

    A+DS is a non-departmental public body, which acts as a national champion for good architecture, design and planning in the built environment.


    Scottish Cities Alliance

    The Scottish Cities Alliance is a partnership of Scotland's seven cities and the Scottish Government, the purpose of which is to attract investment and jobs into cities.


    Planning Aid for Scotland (PAS)

    PAS is a voluntary organisation which offers an independent, free and professional advice service on planning applications and the planning process. It also runs training and education programmes designed to raise awareness and capacity on planning matters with elected members, community groups, seldom heard groups, children and young people.


    Homes for Scotland

    Homes for Scotland is the representative body of the house building industry in Scotland.


    Scottish Property Federation (SPF)

    SPF is the trade association for Scottish commercial and residential property companies.


    Keep Scotland Beautiful

    Keep Scotland Beautiful are the charity that campaigns, acts and educates on a range of local, national and global issues to change behaviour and improve the quality of people’s lives and the places they care for.


    Paths for All Partnership

    Paths for All is a partnership of organisations committed to promoting walking for health and the development of multi-use path networks in Scotland.


    The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

    The RSPB is the UK charity working to secure a healthy environment for birds and all wildlife.


    Friends of the Earth

    Friends of the Earth Scotland is the leading organisation in Scotland that is working for environmental justice and campaigning for the planet and its people.


    The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland

    The AHSS is a Scottish charity dedicated to the protection, preservation, study and appreciation of Scotland’s historic buildings.


    Scottish Civic Trust

    The Scottish Civic Trust is the national body for the civic movement in Scotland.


    NHS Health Scotland

    NHS Health Scotland is a national Health Board working to reduce health inequalities and improve health.


    Scottish Alliance for People and Places

    The Scottish Alliance for People and Places brings together a wide range of organisations from across the planning and placemaking sector in Scotland to articulate a united and compelling vision for a more inclusive, respected, holistic and innovative system of planning.


    Scotland's Towns Partnership

    Scotland's Towns Partnership is Scotland’s largest towns’ collective; representing and promoting the diversity of our towns and places, and supporting those organisations and groups that have an interest in or ownership of them.


    Scottish Community Development Centre

    The Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) supports best practice in community development and is recognised by the Scottish Government as the national lead body for community development.


    Scottish Council for Development and Industry

    The Scottish Council for Development & Industry (SCDI) is an independent and inclusive economic development network.


    Professional Bodies


    The Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland (RTPI)

    The RTPI is the professional body for town planners.


    The Landscape Institute (LI)

    LI is the chartered body for the landscape profession. It is an educational charity that promotes the art and science of landscape practice.


    Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

    RICS are the professional body for qualifications and standards in land, property, infrastructure and construction.


    The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)

    RIAS is the professional body for all chartered architects in Scotland.


    Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)

     ICE is the institution for Civil Engineering


    Collaborative Programmes


    Regional Transport Partnerships

    Regional Transport Partnerships bring together local authorities, elected members and other key regional stakeholders to take a strategic approach to the planning and delivery of regional transport so that it better serves the needs of people and businesses.


    City Region Deals

    City Region Deals offer the potential for new collaborative regional partnerships, focused on long-term strategic approaches to improving regional economies.




    Place Standard

    The Place Standard tool provides a simple framework to structure conversations about place.


    Town Centre Toolkit

    The Town Centre Toolkit contains ideas and examples of how people and organisations can make their town centre more attractive, more active, and more accessible.


    Understanding Scottish Places

    Understanding Scottish Places offers a mechanism for understanding the similarity of places across Scotland. Deliberately designed to avoid a simplistic ranking of places as better or worse, USP focuses on the shared characteristics of towns.


    The National Standards for Community Engagement

    The National Standards for Community Engagement are good-practice principles designed to support and inform the process of community engagement, and improve what happens as a result.


    Planning Schools


    Heriot Watt University - Urban and Regional Planning


    University of Dundee - Town and Regional Planning


    University of Strathclyde - Urban Design


Irene Beautyman
Planning for Place Programme Manager

Tel. 07908 930763

Email Irene


Trevor Moffat

Project Officer

Tel. 07834 516824

Email Trevor

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