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Why is planning important?

8th November 2019

Robbie Calvert, CNPA Graduate Planner, discusses the work of the CNPA planning team on World Town Planning day.

Today (8th of November) is World Town Planning Day. This may not jump out of your calendar between the late autumnal flurry of Halloween, Guy Fawkes night and St. Andrews day, but if you care to let me bend your ear for five minutes I’ll try and convince you why planning should be closer to the fore of our collective thoughts.

Why do I think planning is important? And what exactly does it do as a core function here at the CNPA?

A good place to start is with a new piece of planning legislation that was passed through Scottish Parliament last summer. On the face of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 it was decided that there be included a ‘purpose of planning’ – to provide a clear, unequivocal description of the remit of the system –

“The purpose of planning is to manage the development and use of land in the long term public interest.”

Photo Credit: Angus Findlay

So what kind of work goes on in the CPNA planning authority to manage the development and use of land in the long term public interest? And how do we measure success in the work we do?

Planning is fundamentally about place, creating great places both now and in the future. Our development planning team work hard to set out the framework for development for the future of the park in our Local Development Plan, helping guide the right development to the right place.

Our development management team makes sure each and every application considered by our committee has had full input by our planners and a range of consultees including communities, ecologists and transport professionals.

Ultimately, with coproduction and proactive planning at the heart of the process we can create the great places of the future and protect and enhance what we have now.

How do we celebrate great places here in the National Park? Since 2012 the CNPA has run the National Park Design Awards to recognise and celebrate the delivery of a range of high quality developments through the planning process. We also provide a range of case studies in the ‘Project Focus’ section of our Planning Performance Framework.

The Future

In such extraordinary and uncertain times, now more than ever it seems the future is hard to predict. So what does the future hold for planning and placemaking? Climate change will undoubtedly continue to build importance in our collective consciousness and the planning system will be at the fore of the impending shift to a net-zero carbon society. I believe that we need to champion the power of planning to embrace and improve the future, not fear it.

So cheers to all town planners on World Town Planning Day. If you would like any more information on planning service at CNPA please visit our section of the website –

Robbie Calvert is a Graduate Planner with the Cairngorms National Park Authority, he joined the Authority in September 2019. His role is split between supporting the development plan and the development management team processing planning applications.