The approval by the Scottish Parliament of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill this week presents a great opportunity for communities to shape their future and the places where they live and work.

PAS (formerly known as Planning Aid for Scotland) welcomes this bill wholeheartedly and believe it will go a long way to addressing the inequalities which exist within communities, ensuring that there is a level playing field for everybody to get what is best for their area.

Not only will it help to create better places to live and work but it could also assist with employment, skills development and even improve people’s health to have control over their communities. However this can only be successful if we ensure that universal advice for all communities is available, especially those who are currently least able to get involved.

Communities who have previously felt disempowered will be given the opportunity to have control over their decisions about land and ownership. And there are already a number of excited community groups waiting for the bill to be passed so they can bring forward their projects. However it is important that we look at the whole place not just individual buildings if we want to create vibrant and successful communities.

This level of engagement and interest in how the places around us are developed is very encouraging and marks the rise of a new national conversation which has sprung up about the places around us, how they are changed and how they are used, and how communities feel they can influence outcomes that directly affect them.

As an organisation whose overarching aim is to help build active citizenship and give people the opportunity to create the places they want, this is a very important step. Scotland will now be able to lead the way in shaping its communities and delivering the best possible places for future generations – by putting people at the heart of decision making about the future of their place.

Petra Biberbach is Chief Executive of PAS

Source: Holyrood Magazine

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