What Makes a Successful City Region – Setting the Scottish Context – Graham Ross, A+DS

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In setting the context for the event, Graham Ross (A+DS Deputy Chair) noted updated Scottish policy (Creating Places; NPF3; SPP) that promotes a design-led approach and encourages strategic spatial thinking from national level through city region strategic planning (SDPs) to local levels (LDPs).

Graham referred to Scotland’s tradition of strategic planning (e.g. Geddes, Mears and Abercrombie) that has grappled with issues such as development growth pressures and strategic regional planning, and noted that Scotland’s cities are distinct and diverse; each with differing relationships with their hinterlands. Spatial place-based responses have been identified in the recent review of strategic planning; interventions should be rooted in an understanding of place.

Through recent experiences (e.g. dealing with the legacies of post-industrial past and also of modernist planning) Scotland has gained experience about how to place-make and place-mend. We need to be open to looking at issues in different ways (i.e. rotate the plan view) and there are many ways to assist generation of ideas and visual thinking, e.g. through use modelling techniques that help to vision spatial dimension effects across topography, land use and terrain.

Graham prompted three areas that the event might reflect on:
• What visual thinking, tools and techniques can help develop planning concepts and convey regional/national spatial planning?
• What is an appropriate level of ambition, detail and timeframe for such plans?
• What scope is there for research and testing of alternative strategies toward refining visionary spatial planning?

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