Local planning

The prospect of the Community Empowerment Bill being approved in the Scottish Parliament today presents a great opportunity for communities to shape their future and the places where they live and work as outlined by Marco Biagi, minister for local government and community empowerment (Friends of The Scotsman, 16 June).

PAS (formerly Planning Aid Scotland) welcomes this bill wholeheartedly and believes it will go a long way to addressing the inequalities which exist within communities, ensuring that there is a level playing field for everybody to get what is best for their place.

As Mr Biagi explains, this legislation could be life-changing for communities that have previously felt disempowered by allowing them to come forward and lead regeneration in their area. He mentions that he already has a number of excited community groups waiting for the bill to be passed so they can bring forward their projects.

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This level of engagement and interest in how the places around us are developed is very encouraging and marks the rise of a new national conversation which has sprung up about the places around us, how they are changed and how they are used.

We just have to look at examples such as the outcry at the development of Aberdeen’s Marischal Square, Glasgow’s George Square and the former Royal High School in Edinburgh to see how passionate people are about place. Much of the work we do at PAS looks at ways to facilitate how communities can become more involved in decision making by providing impartial advice and information.

This change in legislation would greatly help this aim, and therefore we urge MSPs to vote in favour of his and give people the keys to their future communities.

Petra Biberbach

Chief executive