MacKay Hannah

Planning in Scotland: Delivering a 360 Degree Planning System


John McNairney

Chief Planner, Scottish Government

Over the last thirty years John has practiced as a chartered town planner in local government, planning consultancy and, most recently, in central government. 

He joined the Scottish Office at devolution initially leading a range of planning and transport policy developments and subsequently implementation of the Scottish Executive’s Freedom of Information legislation. 

In 2005 he was appointed Assistant Chief Planner supporting development of the Planning (Scotland) Act and subsequently its implementation, the Delivering Planning Reform Agenda and the development of Scotland’s ePlanning programme. 

He was appointed Chief Planner in July 2012 following Jim Mackinnon’s retirement from Scottish Government.



Niall Stuart

Director, Hutcheson Associates

Niall Stuart set up Hutcheson Associates in September 2017 after eight years as the Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, the representative group for Scotland’s renewable energy sector.

His new company is focused on advising companies on engaging with parliament, government and media; on the development of policy in areas such as planning; and on how to engage with and shape the process of regulatory change.

Niall has 15 years’ experience of working with businesses to shape and inform their strategic communications and stakeholder engagement, securing many important policy changes in that time:

• Ambitious renewable energy targets
• Small business and renewable energy rates relief
• Planning policies that support investment whilst protecting our most sensitive and valued landscapes
• Changes to renewable power transmission charges and distribution charging
• Greater support for energy storage
• Significant investment in innovation funding

Niall was a member of the First Minister’s Energy Advisory Board and co-chaired the Scottish Government’s Renewable Industry Advisory Board. He has also been a regular contributor to Scottish print and broadcast media.

All of this gives him strong insight into how an effective communications strategy can maximise opportunities and mitigate risks to business from the policy development process.

Stefano Smith FRTPI

Director of Planning - Peter Brett Associates and RTPI Scotland Convenor 2017

Stefano is a commercial and pragmatic development planner with a strong customer focus. Stefano has nearly 30 years of UK professional experience of managing multi-disciplinary teams within a planning, environmental, design and engineering consultancy.

He has extensive experience in providing development planning and project management services in the environment, infrastructure, energy, commercial, industrial, housing and mixed-use sectors. He is a Chartered Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute (FRTPI) with experience in statutory planning (including approvals & consents and expert witness), sustainability, regeneration, master planning & urban design, consultation & engagement strategies and tools & development economics. He is a seasoned practitioner in stakeholder engagement and the development of communication strategies, as well as the use of appraisal and assessment tools.

Stefano has successfully advised, negotiated, and delivered complex land development and infrastructure projects of ranging sizes. He has worked in both the private and public sectors, particularly pertaining to the principles and practice of the economics of urban regeneration, land development, sustainability, urban design, complex environmental assessment, and project management.


Craig McLaren

Director for Scotland and Ireland, Royal Town Planning Institute

Craig is Director of Scotland and Ireland in the Royal Town Planning Institute. In this role he leads the Institute’s policy, public affairs and member services work in Scotland and Ireland. He is also responsible the RTPI’s approaches to professional standards including ethics, conduct and discipline, and, is the lead Director for its work in the English Regions.

Prior to this Craig set up and managed the Scottish Centre for Regeneration in Scottish Government and its agency Communities Scotland, as its Director. He has also been Chief Executive of the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum (SURF); Scottish Planning Policy Officer with the RTPI; and a planner and economic development officer for the London Borough of Kingston upon Thames.

Craig is a Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute and an Academician of the Institute of Urbanism. He has also been appointed by Scottish Ministers to chair the National Walking Strategy Delivery Forum and previously sat on the Boards of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, Resilient Scotland, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Greenspace Scotland and the Jim Boyack Memorial Trust.

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Karen Hamilton

Partner and Head of Transport Group, Brodies


Karen uses her insight from working as a lawyer in both the public and private sectors to deliver results for clients by considering planning issues from all angles. Her career got off to a flying start with a planning inquiry win against a top QC.


Pam Ewen

Senior Manager (Planning), Fife Council

Pam returned to Fife Council to head up planning in September 2015. The planning authority deals with thousands of applications/consents, delivers projects, provides specialist advice and prepares FIFEplan and other planning policy.  All with the aim of ensuring the planning system can support sustainable economic growth in keeping with the authority’s aim to make 'Fife the best place to do business'.

Pam has worked within a number of planning authorities in Scotland since graduating in the early 1990s from Strathclyde University.  In different management roles throughout the last 22 years in Fife Council and TAYplan SDPA, Pam has led a number of award winning projects including winning the overall UK RTPI Planning Award for the TAYplan Strategic Development Plan in 2011.

She has a degree in Town Planning, an MBA and is a Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).  Pam is a previous Convenor of RTPI Scotland, a member of Heads of Planning Scotland Executive, RTPI General Assembly and RTPI Membership & Ethics Committee.  Beyond her passion for planning, she cherishes family time and enjoys golf.

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Jonathan Guthrie

Director for Strategic Public Partnerships, Robertson Group

In his role as Director for Strategic Public Partnerships, Jonathan focuses on the creation, development and maintenance of productive partnerships with the public sector. He manages the contact point for Robertson Group with key public partners and helps develop strategies that deliver their objectives. Over the last 11 years he has assisted numerous public bodies to develop and deliver major projects across the UK.

Jonathan has over 20 years’ experience in the Technology, Design, Property and Construction sector, as well as in Finance and Investment in Strategic Development working with both the private and public sectors.

Jonathan has overseen the development of projects, particularly for two funding mechanisms: REIF (Renewable Energy Investment Fund) and UK GIB (Green Investment Bank). This has involved the development and coordination of the Scottish Green Investment Portfolio (SGIP) assisting the accessibility for finance for Low Carbon and Green Sector projects, development and planning of new funds and delivery structures for Energy, Waste and Community Renewable projects.

A large part of Jonathan’s Scottish Government role was in liaising between the public and private sectors for project inception and development. He advised on the development of teams to progress projects and investment structures and sourcing Public and Private finance and delivery interest for major projects.

Jonathan also carried out a similar role for the City of Edinburgh Council, for strategic property and investment development. He created Project Edinburgh and the String of Pearls projects for the City of Edinburgh whilst on secondment from Standard Life from 2004 to 2008.

Having created a number of development frameworks, projects and investment opportunities with the Project Edinburgh Design Team, Jonathan and the team then secured major investment interest in the city from global investors and developers. These include the St James Quarter (Henderson Global), SOCO.


Donald Anderson

Director, Playfair Scotland

Prior to setting up the company, Donald worked as Director of the PPS Scotland Office for nine and a half years, as a company with specific expertise in inward investment, government and public service issues. Donald has worked on projects with an investment value more than £4billion in recent years. His work has covered most of Scotland working in 28 of the 32 local authority areas.

Donald was a councillor for over 20 years, working extensively on delivering economic development and investment and was one of the key public sector figures who helped Edinburgh become the strongest city economy in the UK outside London. Donald helped the city’s Festivals to thrive and conceived and created Edinburgh’s Christmas Festival which brings nearly £200million into the city each year. Donald was unashamedly pro-development during his period in office.

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Picture of Graham Ross

Graham Ross

Director, Austin Smith Lord

Petra Biberbach

Chief Executive, PAS

Petra Biberbach is Chief Executive of award-winning national charity, PAS. With a career spanning public, private and third sector, Petra brings a wealth of expertise to the post in the fields of planning, sustainable development, renewable energy, community engagement and research.

Petra is currently the Vice Chair of LINK Group and chairs the Property Development Group. Petra served as a member on the Independent Review of the Scottish Planning System and recently completed two terms as a board member of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority and was Convenor of the Planning Committee. In 1998 she founded and became the first chair of the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) which campaigned successfully for the reopening of the Borders Railway.

She enjoys golf, choir, cycling, gardening and still singing along to Leonard Cohen!

Petra Biberbach
0131 659 9771

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Irene Beautyman

Planning for Place Programme Manager, Improvement Service

Irene Beautyman combines her 30 years as a planner with her experience as a trained facilitator to lead the Planning for Place Programme at the Local Government Improvement Service.

Her key role at the Improvement Service is to forge closer links between everyone involved in making successful places that enabling wellbeing. Her work has particular emphasis in place-based approaches and working with spatial planning, community planning and public health. She is a proponent of the Place Principle and a member of the Place Standard Tool Implementation Group.

She is working closely with Scotland’s Public Health Reform team on the “Health and Place Early Adopter”. It will test and refine new ways of working between health and planning practitioners to deliver a whole systems approach to Scotland’s Public Health Priorities.

With the launch of the Place Network she facilitates higher levels of collaboration and awareness raising around the repositioning of place as one of the cornerstones of meeting Scotland’s National Performance Framework requirements.

Irene also runs the Planning Skills Programme sharing skills, knowledge and behaviours to maximise spatial planning’s proactive contribution to creating great places and improving outcomes. She works closely with Heads of Planning Scotland, the Key Agencies and Scottish Government.

Irene is Chair of PAS (Planning Aid Scotland) and Senior Vice Convenor of Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland Executive.
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Nikola Miller

Principal Planning Advisor, Homes for Scotland

Nikola joined the Homes for Scotland (HFS) team as Principal Planning Advisor in April 2016 with expertise in planning policy, advocacy and influencing as well as experience in planning consultancy.

Working closely with both the Head of Planning and the Chief Executive, Nikola is involved in supporting HFS member interests through Scotland-wide committees as well as reviewing and influencing emerging Strategic Development Plans, Local Development Plans, Supplementary Guidance and related housing policy matters.

Her previous roles include Policy & Practice Officer for the Royal Town Planning Institute, Development Officer for PAS (formerly Planning Aid for Scotland) and Planning Consultant for Smiths Gore, Miller Developments and GVA. In addition to her role at HFS, Nikola is a Lead Volunteer for PAS, an Academician of the Academy of Urbanism, Committee Member of the RTPI South East Scotland Chapter, Secretary of the Central Scotland branch of Women in Property, and a Trustee of the Built Environment Forum Scotland.

A graduate of the University of St Andrews and Heriot Watt University, Nikola became a Chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute in 2008.


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Professor Duncan MacLennan was very engaging and easy to listen to and I found Ewan Fraser's energy efficiency talk interesting. I also enjoyed Graeme Brown's insights into subsidies. Delegate feedback form, Housing 2015

Lyndsay Robertson, Perth and Kinross Council,
Delegate at recent Housing Conference