“Exhausted, isolated, anguished, traumatised, frustrated, baffled, depressed, rejected, raw and wounded”.
These are words that have been used by ordinary people to describe their experience of democratic planning in Scotland. The words are shockingly emotive and seem inconsistent with the dull technical language so often associated with planning. They seem better to describe the feelings of someone exposed to civil war or extreme ill health than of a responsible citizen taking part in one of society’s democratic opportunities. Yet these emotive terms are not unusual, we have spoken, whilst gathering stories of people’s experiences of planning, to many individuals who describe their feelings in such a way.
They certainly do not convey the signs of a caring democratic planning system that enhances the lives of citizens who engage. Instead what we find are individuals who feel not only exhausted by the experience but, who have discovered that the open democratic process can involve their views being dismissed, disrespected or regarded as unsuitable whilst their character and motivations are frequently maligned and constantly called into question.
What is the reality of the impact of engagement in planning on individual lives? There is very little information documenting this aspect of the citizen’s side of the story and we have found it differs somewhat from the reality suggested by the Scottish Government.
We are rectifying this omission in our paper which describes the challenges people face and the demands that the system places on them. We look into why this is happening and the current practices that are in place that mask the true reality of democratic planning in Scotland.
What is your experience, as a citizen, of planning in Scotland?