MacKay Hannah

Scotland's New Planning Act: The Act, it's Consequences and Next Steps Explained


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.


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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Craig McLaren

National Director, Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland

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.

RTPIScotland RTPIIreland

Stefano Smith FRTPI

Director, Stefano Smith Planning

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.


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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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.
ImprovServ IreneBeautyman

Euan Hutchison

Natural Power

Euan was one of the team that helped to deliver consent on Pen y Cymoedd, one of the largest onshore wind farms ever to be consented in England and Wales.  Having worked in a similar Planning & Development role with a local authority, Euan helps to assess sites for Clients, solving problems, providing advice and sifting through reports to find the best possible sites.


Cllr Neil Gardiner

Convener - Planning Committee, City of Edinburgh Council

Councillor Neil Gardiner is Convenor of the Planning Committee and Development Management Sub-Committee. He is also a board member of Edinburgh World Heritage and Edinburgh and Lothians Green Space Trust and Convenor of Pentland Hills Regional Park Joint Committee. He provides political leadership for Edinburgh’s City Plan 2030. Neil studied architecture at Glasgow School of Art and Lund University in Sweden. He has worked as an architect and urban designer in Berlin, Sao Paulo, Sydney and London as well as Scotland.

Christina Cox

Planning and Building Standards Manager, Stirling Council

Chris has 30 years’ experience in Planning and has been RTPI Chartered since 1992. In 2016 she took up the post of Chief Planning Officer and Building Standards Manager at Stirling Council, a post quite similar to that which she held at South Ayrshire Council since 2009.

Chris is active with Heads of Planning Scotland (HoPs); is current Chair of the Performance and Practice HoPs sub-group which works to support delivery of a culture of continuous improvement in Planning. Chris also currently represents HoP’s engagement on Digital Planning and the Partners in Planning Forum. Just as Chris is keen to ensure that planning services future gaze to plan and provide ever improving services, she actively looks for opportunities for sharing common solutions with building standards and currently represents HoPs on the Building Standards Workforce Strategy Group.


Karen Hamilton

Partner, Brodies LLP


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.


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The conference had a wide range of speakers covering different aspects of likely new planning legislative procedures. I took something from all the speakers. It was a very interesting conference - both beneficial and informative. All speakers spoke well and contributed to a whole range of matters from different perspectives with their specific fields of expertise. My main interests were presented and debated well.

Charles Johnston, Scottish Borders Council,
Delegate at Planning in Scotland Conference 2017