A&DS/SNH sustainable placemaking workshop

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A&DS have collaborated with SNH to deliver a training workshop at a recent Climate Change Conference. The event, which was jointly promoted by the Key Agencies Group in association with Improvement Services (IS), considered the role of development plans to address climate change issues.

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 introduces a duty on public bodies to contribute towards meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets and to adapt to the impacts of climate change; the importance of taking this into account “in all decisions throughout the planning system” is recognised in Scottish Planning Policy (SPP).

In response to increased demand for advice on climate change issues, Agencies have launched a central resource ‘Directory’ to assist planning authorities in their decision-making. The Directory can be found here. The document identifies A&DS and SNH as lead agencies in advising on sustainable placemaking, and SNH will shortly be consulting on a position paper on this topic.

The recently published Low Carbon Economic Strategy also notes that A&DS “… will provide advice and access to skills to assist designers, clients and constructers to realise low carbon developments with the most sustainable layouts and in the most appropriate places.”

As an aid to discussing ‘the right development in the right place at the right time’ the joint A&DS/SNH workshop adopted a gaming technique, where differing land use tiles were played by teams who were tasked with competing agendas. The exercise challenged the players to debate the consequences of their actions. There was common agreement regarding the difficulties of mediating between tensions; and key points arising from the discussion were:

The twin importance of a) leadership, and b) maintaining and working towards a co-ordinated vision of the type of place to be created (focussing on one area may displace issues elsewhere).

Recognition that certain climate change issues are best tackled at an appropriate scale (i.e. micro renewable benefits may be better achieved through community utilities provision) and the importance of interactions between measures at different scales.

Awareness that diverse social needs need to be met, and that decisions which build in long term social costs need to be avoided.

Feedback gathered by IS has been extremely positive with requests for more training of this kind; one respondent commented that it was “… nice to see the shift back and the lead being given by A&DS to proper map based spatial planning”.

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