Innovation, Skills and Engagement

As Scottish planning reforms embed and progress the role of digital planning tools will enable the profession to adapt and optimise decision making. The tools described within this handbook are a starting point but reflect the profession’s dynamic nature. Innovation will however continue to be required. Having skills necessary to do this will also be important. It is therefore critical that through mechanisms such as the digital planning portal, the planning skills diagnostic tool and other resources within this realm, planners and stakeholders are empowered to identify and apply innovation.

In doing so, the Scottish planning system will improve its accessibility to users including community groups, business interests and consultees. Digital planning skills and digital planning tools will also however ensure that development planning and development management are disciplines which remain relevant in achieving public policy goals.

In that regard, digital exclusion must be avoided. There is potential for groups in communities particularly to be marginalised further in the planning system, through greater digitisation e.g. the Gypsy/Traveller community. Literacy levels within this community can be low, with often little or no digital awareness or interest. Similarly, there remain physical constraints with digital connectivity or the availability of technology across some areas of Scotland and across many of our deprived communities. Planners themselves must therefore remain the guiding force for the future of our villages, towns, cities and the land areas in between.

Overall, this handbook has served however to present the opportunity. The opportunity to convey and collaborate, to be more productive, to utilise real time and dynamic data publicly and to monitor outcomes for people, businesses or places – thereby acting in the public interest for Scotland.

Digital tools can be, where applied correctly, an enabler, not a substitute. They can aide towards improved transparency and compliment other public policy and social initiatives such as community empowerment and localism. Ultimately, however, the digital tool still recognises and respects the autonomy and authority of the user/s in addition to providing an opportunity for the collective enhancement of skills, interest and involvement in planning across Scotland.