New research to inform future planning policy across rural Scotland

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Savills’ planning team in Scotland and the research institute Inherit have together won a Scottish Government tender for research which will inform the future preparation of the National Planning Framework (NPF4).

The project will be undertaken by Savills rural planning specialists, along with Inherit, which is a charity with expertise in research, heritage and rural development. The project is to be completed by the end of the summer.

The research will draw together a national picture of communities across Scotland. Through a survey, interviews and a series of workshops, it will also identify the future needs of rural communities and businesses and consider how these needs might translate into development on the ground over the next 30 years.

Savills planning director Debbie Mackay said: “We’re delighted to have won this contract which we see as a unique opportunity to support Scottish Government in its development of national rural planning policies in Scotland.

“Our research will create an evidence base that recognises that not all rural areas are the same. The project will identify the likely needs, challenges and opportunities of a broad range of rural stakeholders across Scotland. The implementation of Brexit will bring uncertainty to our farming sector and, as a result, the planning system will have an increasingly important role in delivering essential economic development in rural areas.

“Engaging stakeholders from across rural Scotland’s communities will help to explore how planning policy can help to support strong and vibrant rural communities, and to understand what types of developments are likely to have a truly transformative impact.”

Dr Chris Dalglish, a director of Inherit, added: “Rural Scotland faces some significant challenges, such as depopulation, but there are also great assets in the people and their heritage, and in the land and the environment. It is important that the planning system supports people as they strive to develop their communities and places in sustainable ways.

“Different rural areas have different needs, and planning policy should be responsive to these varying circumstances. To help achieve that, rural communities and businesses should be able to inform the policies that affect them. This research will involve speaking and listening to a wide range of people in rural areas and to the diverse organisations that represent them to provide a sound evidence base for future rural planning policy.”