Last week I visited Dollar to speak to members of the local community about proposals for housing developments in the village.

It was clear from my discussion that there is not blanket opposition to house building, however there are serious concerns that the council will have to take on board during the planning process.

New housing must be sympathetic and address the needs of local people. That means building a variety of housing, including genuinely affordable units, not simply five bedroom properties which may be unsuitable or unaffordable for locals.

Developments must also include sufficient infrastructure to ensure the new residences don’t adversely impact the current inhabitants.

Dollar has a number of these housing sites that will substantially increase the size of the village and change its character.

However, developers often come back in with applications for far greater numbers of houses than local development plans originally allow for and often with minimal contributions to services such as schools, open space and medical centres.

The danger is we end up with dead dormitory towns, dislocated from essential services.

Concerns over flooding must also be adequately addressed. This applies to the site of the development itself as well as any impact it may have downstream. I’ll be keeping a close eye as proposals develop.

The whole planning system is currently being reviewed at the moment as the Scottish Government’s Planning Bill makes its way through the parliamentary process at Holyrood.

The Local Government and Communities Committee is currently considering amendments brought forward by MSPs to improve the bill.

Greens have proposed some ambitious and exciting changes to the bill which we believe will bring great benefits to communities the length and breadth of the country.

The committee has already voted to accept Green amendments to preserve old railway infrastructure for future public transport use – this is a proposal which could potentially put plans to open the rail link between Alloa and Dunfermline back on track.

Another change we’ve made is to ensure that councils must consider the provision of public drinking fountains when drawing up local development plans.

You may remember in last month’s Political Stand I discussed the idea of a bottle deposit return scheme – to recycle single use plastic drinks bottles.

The provision of fountains in our cities, towns and villages would be another great step toward tackling the scourge of disposable plastic.

The provision of public toilets is another important consideration that we believe councils must assess. This is a matter of public health and public decency and I’m pleased the committee agreed to this amendment too.

My proposals to tackle air pollution issues are due to be discussed in parliament this week and if agreed will ensure that councils have to consider the impact that major developments have on air quality.

Poor air quality is responsible for around 2,500 deaths in Scotland each year. It’s long overdue that the planning system measured the impact that new developments will have on our health and wellbeing.