Upcoming CPG Meeting: Planning Review

The next meeting of the Cross Party Group on Architecture + the Built Environment will be on 31st January 2017.

The meeting will take place from 5.45 – 7.45 pm in Committee Room 1 (note change of room) of the Scottish Parliament.

Unfortunately, Andy Wightman MSP is no longer able to join us but I am delighted to say that the Minister for Local Government and Housing, Kevin Stewart MSP is able to make it on the night.

Our speakers are:

Petra Biberbach, Chief Executive of PAS (Formerly Planning Aid Scotland). Petra sat on the recent Planning Review.

As Chief Executive of PAS, Petra heads up the staff team and oversees the organisation’s strategic direction and development. With her outward-facing role, Petra represents the organisation externally, creating new opportunities for PAS to improve engagement in planning.

Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing

In the 2011 election Kevin Stewart was elected to represent Aberdeen Central. He was the Convener of the Scottish Parliament‘s Local Government and Regeneration Committee, where he oversaw scrutiny of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. He was also a member of the Welfare Reform Committee and sat on the Justice Sub-committee on Policing. Kevin was involved in the Cross-Party Groups on Oil & Gas, Scots language, Nuclear Disarmament, Malawi and Tibet and has acted as Parliamentary Liaison Officer to Nicola Sturgeon from November 2014 until the dissolution of parliament in March 2016. He stood again in 2016 and was re-elected with an increased majority. He was subsequently appointed as Minister for Local Government and Housing.

Their short presentations will be followed by an open discussion chaired by Linda Fabiani MSP.

Irish Design 2015 – Festival of Architecture 2016 – Creative Connections in the Built Environment

The Cross Party Group on Architecture + the Built Environment met on 17th November 2015 on the following theme: Irish Design 2015 – Festival of Architecture 2016 – Creative Connections in the Built Environment. 

Representatives of these two great national initiatives met meet to discuss creative connections in the built environment and to consider the opportunities and challenges involved in promoting design and its economic benefits.

Irish Design 2015 (ID2015) is a year-long initiative backed by the Irish government exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish design throughout Ireland and internationally in order to drive job creation, grow exports and increase competitiveness.

ID2015 seeks to harness the power of design to support all aspects of society – from students and educators to business and the public sector.

Festival of Architecture 2016 aims to boost confidence and understanding of our built environment, and to make a lasting difference to Scottish communities. The year-long initiative will inform all members of the Scottish public of the economic and social benefits of good architecture. The festival will also consolidate and advance Scotland’s position on the world architectural stage.

Four eminent speakers addressed the Cross Party Group meeting:

  • Marie Christie – Head of Development Department Visit Scotland Events, Scotland’s Year of Innovation Architecture and Design
  • Alex Milton – Programme Director, Irish Design 2015
  • Emmett ScanlonNine Lives Curator, Irish Design 2015
  • David Dunbar – Festival of Architecture 2016

The Minutes and any presentations from the meeting are available to download:

“A Manifesto for the Built Environment”

The Cross-Party Group met on 6th October 2015 on the following theme: “A Manifesto For The Built Environment”

With the Scottish Parliament election on 05 May 2016 the parties are putting together their manifestos

  • Does the built environment feature in the political manifestos?
  • What burning issues should be addressed?
  • How can we raise the profile with MSPs and the electorate

Invited were a range of organisations who represent the Built Environment who presented their Manifestos in a Pecha Kucha format of max 5 min presentation and 20 PowerPoint slides.

The Minutes and any presentations from the meeting are available to download:


Annual General Meeting – Tuesday 9th June 2015

The AGM of the Cross Party Group on Architecture and the Built Environment took place on 9th June 2015 at the Scottish Parliament.

The Agenda for the meeting was as follows:

  1. Welcome, Present and Apologies
  2. Minutes of Annual General Meeting, dated 12 June 2014
  3. Matters arising
  4. Annual Report by Convenor
  5. Finance Report
  6. Appointment of Office Bearers
  7. Any Other Business
  8. Official Close of Meeting

Click below to access the Minutes of the meeting:

CPG A+BE AGM Minutes 2015-06-09


“The Festival of Architecture 2016: Education, Community and Place-Making”

The recent meeting of the Cross Party Group on Architecture and the Built Environment, held on 21st April 2015, heard about the Festival of Architecture 2016 and a significant programme of planned events.

Discussions included “The Hedgehog Challenge!”, Project % for Engagement and  Architectural Guides for Children by Children.

The key aspects of the Festival of Architecture 2016 are as follows:

  • Part of The Scottish Government’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.
  • Preparation has been underway since 2012.
  • The Festival is being promoted by the RIAS (The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland).
  • The Festival currently has 60 funding partners such as the Royal Scottish Academy, Architecture + Design Scotland and The Herald & Times Media Group.
  • Some of the events planned are the Ideal Hut Show, Digitisation of the RIAS Buildings of Scotland Guides and a World Cities Expo.

For more information please refer to website: http://www.rias.org.uk/events/festival-of-architecture-2016/

The any presentations from the meeting are available to download:


The Cross-Party Group met on 04 February 2015 on the following theme: “USE IT OR LOSE IT – REUSING SCOTLAND’S HISTORIC BUILDINGS”.

Key Points From the Meeting:

  • Funding often time sensitive and not all parties working at the same speed.
  • Lack of cohesion within local authorities and between local authority and Scottish Government.
  • Lack of continuity in local authority staff can be an impediment to project progress.
  • Procurement process sometimes a disincentive to local business and materials.
  • Reuse is profitable but on a longer timescale, and therefore needs a committed developer/investor/owner.
  • Early collaboration and communication should prevent later complexity.
  • Open communication key to community support.
  • Compromise required from all parties: intelligent retention required.
  • Re-use may require a local authority to be more open to risk.
  • Designer must deliver for user needs.
  • Mothballing for the right use is an appropriate approach.
  • Re-use may not be the easiest or cheapest option but often the best option for wider community and social benefits.

The Minutes and any presentations from the meeting are available to download:

“Housing – People – Places – Supply – Delivery”

The Cross-Party Group met on 9 December 2014 on the following theme: “Housing – People – Places – Supply – Delivery”.

Key Points:

  • Strong feeling that there is a housing crisis and the current approach is not capable of solving the problem
  • Better quality, more consistent and agreed information is required on the need and demand for housing
  • The benefits of high quality design and place making is a consistently strong theme across all professions
  • It is necessary to depoliticise housing and get cross-party agreement on what needs to be done
  • We need to address the issue of limited land supply for housing and give serious consideration to a land delivery agency
  • There is a need to make best use of existing financial models and to establish new housing models to support delivery
  • National Planning Framework should be more directive on the locations new housing and its links to infrastructure.
  • We need to address the skills and material shortages
  • A need for public sector and private sector to work together to put in place sustainable infrastructure design solutions

The Minutes and any presentations from the meeting are available to download:

“Community Control: Gift or Liability?”

CPG 4 November 2014Community Control: Gift or Liability? – the implications of the Community Empowerment Bill

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Organised in conjunction with PAS

Download: Minutes SA Harris presentation

Key Points:

  • The process needs to be led by the community and developed organically, it cannot be forced or driven by budget imperatives, it will take time and patience by all parties.
  • Project champions who are enthusiastic and well informed are often key to the success, however there is concern about what happens when they are no longer involved.
  • Common Good assets are often involved and this can be a very complex situation.
  • There needs to be appropriate ongoing support for marginalised and less capable communities.
  • Other public bodies, not just Local Authorities, will be involved and are perceived to be less ready for this change.
  • Information, funding and access to expertise need to be in place to assist communities to take advantage of the legislation.
  • The importance of ownership; this empowers owners to think about managing for the future – those with a vested interest will do the best they can for the future of their place
  • Displaying community support for a project may be challenging if there are differing views, opinions and tensions. This is likely to be more challenging in cities than small towns.
  • Tools are required to evaluate ‘preventative spend’ benefits – potential benefits represent much more than merely a financial ‘bottom-line’ transaction.

Are Scotland’s Places the best Places in the World to grow up as a Young Person?

The Cross-Party Group met on 25 February 2014 on the following theme:  “Are Scotland’s Places the best Places in the World to grow up as a Young Person?

The Minutes and any presentations from the meeting on 25 February 2014 are available to download: