• Planning Skills Programme

    The Planning Skills Programme supports the learning and development needs of the planning authorities. 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 covering the fundamentals of the planning system and the work of the Key Agencies."


    If you have any questions or would like to discuss learning opportunities, contact Irene Beautyman or Trevor Moffat.


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

    The Improvement Service (IS) welcomed the recent opportunity to input into this review of the planning system. The consultation highlights the key role of planning to nurture our places, our environment and our communities, and guide future change so that it benefits everyone. We are keen to see the review advanced promptly to promote planning’s role in this delivery of great places.


    The IS did not respond to every proposal made in the consultation but focused on those where it had the expertise to provide input. As such  our response focused on the three key areas of:



    Download the full IS response to Places, People and Planning: a Consultation on the Future of the Scottish Planning System


    Having completed the analyses of the consultation responses, Scottish Government has published a position statement. You can read Burness Paull's summary here.

  • 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


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

  • 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. This presentation accompanies the brochure.


    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.

    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.


    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.


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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