Trade bodies give their backing to infrastructure report

Nicola Barclay

TRADE bodies have been giving their reaction to the new report published by the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland, which sets out a 30-year infrastructure blueprint.

Homes for Scotland welcomed the report, stating that the cost and delays associated with delivering the necessary supporting infrastructure is one of the biggest blockers to housing developments. 

The report sets out 23 specific recommendations including the requirement for a place-based assessment on long-term housing supply and demand and an infrastructure-first approach to support the implementation of National Planning Framework 4.

Homes for Scotland chief executive Nicola Barclay said, “We were pleased to see that the Infrastructure Commission has acknowledged housing, which is crucial to Scotland’s long-term success and wellbeing, as an integral component of the country’s essential infrastructure. New housing developments do not stand alone and are themselves dependent on having the necessary supportive infrastructure in place (such as schools, GP surgeries, transport options, water, gas, electricity and broadband). As well as being required for the new residents, such upfront provision also helps to alleviate concerns from existing residents.

However, costs are prohibitive for both developers and their public sector partners.  If Scotland is to fully meet the housing needs and aspirations of its people, we must find the funding and delivery solutions for both on-site and off-site infrastructure requirements otherwise development, particularly by SMEs and in rural areas, risks being stymied even further. As we travel towards a net zero carbon economy and look to deliver the places of the future, this requires collaboration across public and private sectors. Homes for Scotland and its member companies stand ready to play their full part in developing the next stage of this important work in June 2020, when the Commissioners will be looking to shape the options for delivery of their recommendations.”

The report was also welcomed by Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland, who said it highlights the important role planners should play in helping deliver ambitious environmental targets.

Among a range of recommendations, the report states that ‘to achieve an inclusive net zero carbon economy, the Scottish Government should put “place” at the heart of coherent, infrastructure prioritisation and planning’.

RTPI Scotland convenor Irene Beautyman said, “We very much welcome the commission’s call on Scottish Government to introduce a co-ordinated and appropriately resourced ‘infrastructure first’ approach to the planning system. An important first step on this will be to ensure that the National Planning Framework is accompanied by a costed capital investment programme to ensure we have a deliverable road map to a zero carbon economy.”

RTPI Scotland added that it also welcomed the proposal to establish a body to provide independent, long-term, evidence-based advice to Scottish Ministers on investment decisions.

Irene Beautyman commented, “We have been highlighting for some time that decisions on infrastructure investment need to think beyond the here and now given the long-lasting impact that they can have. We therefore support the establishment of this new body, along with the proposal to reprioritise the assessment criteria for funding infrastructure to ensure that zero carbon is at its heart.”