Comment: Young have vital part to play in planning

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PLANNING is seen as complex. For many, it conjures up adversity, negativity and a feeling of exclusion; it is used to complicate rather than simplify and explain.

However, our planning system, love it or hate it, is extremely important and literally changes our communities, constantly and indefinitely. Planning sets out the vision for the future, so we should remember that most of today’s young people will be living with current planning decisions for much longer than most of those who make them.

This is where Planning Aid for Scotland and its new Young Placemakers campaign come in. Planning Aid for Scotland is an independent and impartial social enterprise – working to enable citizens to shape their communities and engage more effectively with planning. It never take sides or comments on the system; it simply provides expertise to better inform people of where they are in the process and how to make their voice heard.

Young Placemakers is a new initiative to recruit 12 young people in the first year from geographically and socially diverse communities across Scotland to champion active citizenship among the young and encourage them to involve themselves in the planning system.

Young people are the missing piece in the planning jigsaw. They are largely disengaged from the process of planning and development, which plays a vital role in shaping the villages, towns, cities and the country in which they will live, work and possibly raise families.

We want young people to think about both the immediate and the longer-term opportunities that they want to see happen in their local communities, whether that be the provision of skate parks, sports facilities, the creation of employment opportunities, or community-wide planning decisions – such as the provision of new housing or commercial premises.

Whatever the issue, it’s important that young people are encouraged to become involved in shaping their local places. Planning might not be sexy, but it is particularly important. The challenges of today need to be addressed by all; it’s time for young people to play their part.

• Petra Biberbach is chief executive of Planning Aid for Scotland