My Granny used to say “never volunteer for anything” but who listens to their granny? So here I am, Chair of Heads of Planning in what could possibly be the busiest year for HOPS in a wee while. When I put myself forward a few years ago, I was thinking that I really wanted to focus on promoting the profile of public sector land use planning and concentrate on our public profile. I believe communication, with a properly thought out communication strategy, is the key to success

Most of us are from a planning background, and planning schools and our early careers don’t really prepare us for the world of politics, PR and dealing with the media. A difficult enough task already then. And how was I to know that a Minister would pop up and instigate a review of planning that has taken up, and will continue to consume, a huge chunk of our time? I could take the view that “I was looking for a job and then I found a job, and heaven knows I’m miserable now”. Or acknowledge it is a big job we have to do and that every member of HOPS has a part to play. We have a strong team in the Executive Committee and the sub-committees, full of talent and commitment, so let’s just get on with it.

It is going to be a full on year for all of us, but one thing to bear in mind – whilst we get engrossed in the minutiae of parliamentary amendments, permitted development and housing numbers, the real world really doesn’t care much about that. Yes, we need the right tools for the job. My Grandad was a pretty skilful joiner. But we don’t talk about or appreciate the tools he used to make the furniture we still have – we admire what he made. So let’s sharpen up our good tools, chuck out the blunt and useless ones, and get on with the real job, the real reason we all got into this game in the first place – delivering health and well- being through placemaking, and delivering high-quality development in the public interest.”

Iain McDiarmid
HOPS Chair
Shetland Islands Council

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Updated 17/4/19

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