Children and young people’s voices in the Scottish Planning System

Date: 7th March 2017
Category: Respect for the views of the child

In 2015, Ministers commissioned an independent panel to undertake a review of the planning system. This consultation proposes increased engagement with children and young people.

Relevant to those working with or for children and young people is page 21 which follows:

'A wider range of people should be encouraged and inspired to get involved in planning. In particular, we would like to introduce measures that enable children and young people to have a stronger voice in decisions about the future of their places.'

'Children and young people have a significant and particularly relevant contribution to make to deciding the future of our places. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that the best interests of the child must be a top priority in all decisions and actions that affect children. This underlines the role that planning should play in creating good quality places that provide opportunities for leisure, play and culture, and support the children's right to have the best possible health. Plans which are put in place now will decide where and how today's children will live and work in the coming decades. For example, decisions affecting climate change are relevant not only to people now, but also to future generations.'

'The independent panel recommended that there should be a new right for young people to be consulted on the development plan. Set within the framework of public bodies duties under both equalities legislation and arising from Article 12 (the right to an opinion and for it to be listened to and taken seriously) of the Convention, we are already aware that planning authorities are working to involve children and young people in their development plans. Examples in Aberdeen City, Dundee City, Tayplan and Highland have been recently recognised in our Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning.'

'It could therefore be suggested that planning authorities already have the scope to involve children and young people in their development plans. Recent draft guidance on Children's Service Plans noted a wide range of existing structures to support the engagement of children and young people e.g. local youth councils, pupil councils, young people's organisations, young people's committees and other formal and informal structures.'

'However, the independent panel reported that they had found little evidence of engagement with young people. We agree that more can be done to actively promote these examples rather than introduce a statutory requirement prioritising enhanced engagement for one set of people over another.'

'We will therefore bring forward proposals that will require planning authorities to consult more widely, including by using methods that are likely to involve children and young people in the process. We will do this as a priority through secondary legislation using existing powers and recommend that the early examination gatecheck includes a test of the steps taken by the planning authority to engage children and young people in preparing the development plan. In addition, we will encourage planning authorities to work with organisations such as YoungScot, Youth Scotland, the Children's Parliament and PAS to develop and expand the use of innovative methods for involving children and young people in planning.'

Together welcomes the inclusion of children and young people in planning systems.