RTPI Scotland Centenary Conference 2014 Planning for Legacy: Sustainability and Resilience for Long Term Benefit
Steven Tucker, Convenor of RTPI Scotland, welcomed delegates to the Emirates Arena, one of the venues for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and introduced the Centenary Conference by noting the importance of creating sustainable places and building strong community resilience.
Cath Ranson, President of the RTPI, stated that planners should be proud of having contributed to the success of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games; as they should also be proud of 100 years of professionalism and benefit to communities. She referred to RTPI legacy projects such as ‘ambassadors in schools’ and ‘planning horizons papers’ which are dealing with big picture issues. The ‘Scotland’s Best Places’ Award was commended as a positive initiative that raised the profile of planning through encouraging discussion and debate beyond the profession. The Central Govan Action Plan was also celebrated as winner of the profession’s Silver Jubilee Cup. Cath identified that behind such initiatives was a supportive framework where the Government was part of the solution (rather than part of a problem).
Derek Mackay MSP, Minister for Local government and Planning,congratulated the RTPI on their centenary and spoke of having taken forward an ambitious agenda which now focuses on delivering substantial improvement on the ground to create good places which offer quality of life and opportunity. Rather than being seen as a regulatory burden, planning is a deliverer of the right development in the right place, and will be judged by the quality of the outcomes. We need to promote quality and tackle inequality. Plans should be visionary and inspiring; communities should be engaged at the right time and involved in decision making; share good practice – adopt and implement lessons learned from others. The Minister encouraged innovation and partnership working, and referred to funding and investment models (e.g. Non Profit Distribution, Tax Increment Financing, Growth Accelerator Model) to help prepare sites, provide certainty and confidence. “Things work better when we have a plan; it’s time to put our shoulders to wheel to deliver.”
The first three conference presentations were on the theme of ‘Creating legacy from Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games’:
Forbes Barron, Head of Planning and Building Control, Glasgow City Council, spoke about ‘Planning for a Physical Legacy’ by providing greater detail about the Commonwealth Games Village and other venue sites and the importance of ensuring sufficient lead-in time for a project of this scale. The original bid process started in 2002/3 and has been developed through a design-led partnership and masterplanning approach by the City Legacy team. The venue sites were supported through complementary investments, e.g. in Dalmarnock Station and the Clyde Gateway link, and land remediation. The athletes’ village ensured a positive legacy with broader housing choice and 250 houses being sold in advance off the plan. With placemaking at the heart of the process, the project has brought confidence to accelerate interest in significant surrounding sites to come to the market. Ongoing challenges exist as public funding tapers away in favour of further private investment.
Jim Clark, Clyde Gateway URC (on behalf of Ian Manson Chief Executive), in his presentation on ‘Planning for an Economic Legacy’ offered observations about how the Commonwealth Games and associated investments had been a catalyst for transforming the east end of Glasgow. An area long associated with deprivation and poverty, perceptions were being challenged with an emphasis on targeting employment for local people and support for local businesses. With affordable land values and proximity to central Glasgow the area provided a unique offer as an environment within which to attract investment and where business and communities could grow and thrive. Whilst workless figures were down, there are still unacceptable levels of unemployment and other serious inequalities; a range of support programmes and other initiatives are being used to address such challenges as part of a sustainable economic legacy.
George Chalmers, Director Resource Efficiency Management Ltd,introduced ‘Planning for Community Legacy’ by showing a video about the creation of Dalmarnock Community Hub. This learnt lessons from the Olympic Games ‘People in London’ initiative and also the Development Trust Association of Scotland. The project illustrated a ‘bottom up’ approach to regeneration and was largely undertaken and managed by local people; the guiding principle was on how to help change the lives of the people coming through the door. To ensure ongoing success, long-term revenue generation is more important than capital, and the business case is based on a social enterprise model with a variety of activities (e.g. cafe, nursery, GPs, dentist, training suite, office rentals) generating income and providing local jobs. George noted this could be a model for different ways of doing things where the community leads and has control; this requires different skills and knowledge to deal with complex issues. Challenges arise in remaining true to the idea as new housing potentially raises tensions between new and existing residents. “The building is just a start; it’s how we continue to change people’s lives.”
A subsequent Q+A covered a range of issues including: • Benefits of being designated in the NPF provide greater focus and certainty • Speed is also dependent on levels of preparedness; don’t underestimate timeframe required • Compared to the mid ‘70s GEAR initiative this is more of a partnership model with private sector • The regeneration landscape is changing with more community engagement and ownership – locally drawn up indicators help to monitor progress • Communities engage with planning, but may not understand the process; there is a role for planning, but planners may not engage with the role! • Don’t over promise and under deliver; build trust • Have a plan, but be adaptable and flexible to what the local community want • Focus on outcomes to deliver positive change
Delegates were able to take part in a walking tour of the athletes village and/or hear a presentation about the RTPI Scotland Best Places Award by Craig McLaren (Director of Scotland and Ireland RTPI).
The middle three conference presentations were on the theme of ‘Building Sustainable Places’:
Mike Galloway, Director of City Development, Dundee City Council, gave a presentation on ‘Building a Legacy from Dundee Waterfront’ – winner of the RTPI Scotland Best Places Award – which is transforming the image of the city and giving confidence to the citizens and business. He highlighted three key points: the potential role for planners; legacy is so much more than short term jobs; and, always push the envelope and emphasise the art of the possible – be bold.
The Dundee Waterfront comprises five interconnected project areas that are generating 7000 new jobs, 2000 new homes and involve £1bn of new investment. 1] Dundee Port is emerging as the forefront location for the renewable energy sector, helping Aberdeen with an overheating economy, and an example of how cities are working together to benefit the national economy. 2] Riverside / The Park is reclaimed land, the site of a nature park and the location for Dundee city airport which is a key to emerging business economy and high end tourist markets. 3] City Quay is changing the city image of the former docks, and is developing as result of a strong masterplanning process to unlock certainty and investment. 4] The Seabraes is a business and residential area connected back into the city’s urban form and essential to the future of Dundee as it seeks to retain graduates and move from post-industrial industries to a knowledge based economy. 5] The Central Waterfront Area is being transformed to clear away the legacy of an “utterly confusing image of modern life”. A large multi-functional civic space will provide a new living room for the city and bring river views into its heart, with a new £20m rail station funded through prudential borrowing. In summing up Mike observed that buildings come and go, but places endure: street patterns, civic spaces, the buzz of a mix of activities, people inhabiting and thriving urban culture.
Fiona Logan, Chief Executive, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority, presented on ‘Sustainable and Resilient Rural Areas’, and started by agreeing with Mike about the importance of ‘the art of the possible’ and being bold; aspects which are very necessary when considering legacy.
Fiona gave an overview of how the Authority is supporting a culture of innovation and delivery through providing a proactive planning service, encouraging new forms of engagement and empowering communities as ways to help ensure development solutions realise the potential of the national park. Challenges include: an ageing and declining population, a shortage of affordable housing and a need to support and diversify a local economy which is heavily reliant on tourism. In this context, standard solutions are not an option. Initiatives include the use of charrettes to establish consensus on communities’ future, partnership working to generate options and solutions, application of marketing techniques to survey and gauge opinion, new ways of engagement including bespoke website and youtube clips to demystify planning buzz words. The use of social media was particularly helpful to invite broader feedback. There is a need to make planning sexy, accessible and more human to encourage broader participation.
Jim McCormick, Scotland Advisor, Joseph Rowntree Foundation,presentation on ‘Community Regeneration’ spoke about the changing face of poverty and place, and asked: what does it take to make a good place and live a good life? It is important to create neighbourhoods that are sustainable and where people want to be rather than have to be through lack of any other alternative. Census findings reveal that whilst certain types of poverty are reducing, the ‘earn poverty’ of those in work or on minimum wages is increasing. Data also shows that we are increasingly living alone, with a mixed picture across different neighbourhoods. This should inform how we are planning for public care services. Are improvements the result of regeneration or gentrification? They are down to the choices we make! Reduction in social rented sector has meant low income households are stuck in private rented sector with little choice or future. Sustainable neighbourhoods rely on the multiple interests (e.g. planning, housing, public services, employment, etc); local markets have an important role (housing, employment, childcare, etc); quality of life is as important as well as connectedness to wider opportunities; there is a relational approach to mentoring (to improve know-how). Anchor organisations can support income maximisation, offer advice, guidance and sign-posting.
The following Q+A covered a range of issues including: • Social media allows debates to take place in real time, which planning can monitor • The important role of leadership in planning and maintaining a long-term vision • Short term buy-in is necessary in order to achieve longer term objectives • Need to assemble political will and finance to achieve long lasting change • Decisions based on political timescales are too short term • Planning contributes to corporate goals and should be close to the Chief Executives office
The final three conference presentations were on the theme of ‘Supporting Resilient Communities’ and the session was Chaired by Pam Ewen Senior Vice Convenor of RTPI Scotland.
Dr Michael Harris, Deputy Head of Policy and Research, RTPI, spoke about‘Planning a Legacy for Health’ and introduced the RTPI Planning Horizons papers which are intended to tell a story about planning to a wider policy and practice audience. The scale and scope of health challenges is considerable and needs to deal with three major factors: pressures of rapid urbanisation (slum dwellings, land values, etc); health trends (rise in diabetes, respiratory problems, obesity) and their cost implications for society; and, ageing population. We are underprepared to deal with such challenges; we refer to behaviours and formal healthcare systems but need to understand the effects of urban environment and implications for health and wellbeing. H+W needs to be at the centre of design of cities and towns; this necessitates a whole place approach.
The series of RTPI Planning Horizons papers comprises five publications in the centenary year that consider long term social and environmental challenges. The first report on thinking spatially considers how policies impact on places and notes a need to apply spatial intelligence. The second on future-proofing society considers climate and demographic change, and notes that resilience planning has tended to be emergency planning whereas a broader interactive approach is required. The third publication on Promoting Healthy Cities tells an evidenced based story about why good planning is critical to a healthy urban future: health is affected by lack of facilities, damp, stress of living in poor environments, impact of worklessness, detrimental effects of sprawl, lack of physical activity or social interaction, and other social determinants. In planning to design environments that outperform and achieve better reference was made to case studies, e.g. Copenhagen’s integration of walking and cycling; Tower Hamlets inclusion of a range of services for the community of which formal healthcare is a part; overcoming institutional barriers where the Go-well project in Glasgow supports greater capacity for public health and co-production to build on existing assets rather than seeing the community as a health problem.
Nicola Bacon, Founding Director of Social Life, presented on ‘Designing for Social Sustainability’ which puts people at the centre of placemaking processes, and asks why we continue to build neighbourhoods that fail to thrive; why is there a continued focus on ‘hard’ physical things that overlook people’s needs when it is so important to think about the human experience? An alternative view of sustainable communities recognises the importance of social aspects: myths and stories, relationships and networks, rituals and rhythms, shared belief systems. This has informed a core framework for social sustainability that considers: 1] Amenities and Social Infrastructure, 2] Social and Cultural Life, 3] Voice and Influence, 4] Space to Grow, 5] connections to local and regional economy, and to green issues. This forms the basis of a framework taken on by Berkeley Homes who want places to work and have an eye for wider social issues. It has also informed the development of a Social Sustainability toolkit for Sutton Council.
Social sustainability is therefore: • a valuable tool for thinking differently about the lived experience of places • not fully covered by existing frameworks • a way of bringing in concepts that challenge conventional views • capable of being understood, quantified and actioned • an evolving international area of interest
Peter Hetherington, Chair of the Town and Country Planning Association,gave the final presentation on ‘Planning for future legacy: What do we need to do?’ He described a need for shared values; how the ’47 Act was born in part as a reaction to ‘30s sprawl; how there is a danger of an unregulated free-for-all in the south. The considerable work of Sir Peter Hall was recalled and in particular his most recent books on ‘Good Cities Better Lives’ and ‘Sociable Cities’. The TCPA was founded on garden city principles, especially a decent home for everyone, and such principles are relevant today. In planning for future legacy there is much to share and learn from each other, with planning being seen in positive terms. Peter welcomed more collaborative and co-operative cross border policy making.
A final Q+A covered a range of issues including: • every local authority is supposed to be a health promoting organisation – just do it! • Health can be improved where new development enables neighbourliness, embeds healthy living (walking and cycling), helps to address fuel poverty • The privatisation agenda is having a negative impact on health, through fragmentation; more integration is required to overcome the need to talk to more providers each with their separate agendas